“The ability to control one’s own destiny… comes from constant
hard work and courage.”
We usually think of wonderful writers as witty, wise, impassioned, inspiring, and intense. But the word courage often applies as well. So many of the writers we cherish and admire didn’t come to their calling easily. Finding the heart and fire to write meant defying tradition, telling the truth, however wounding, and sometimes even risking life itself.
When I think of courageous writers, Maya Angelou certainly makes the list. The Nobel Prize-winning writer surely didn’t start out with a golden pen in her hand. After suffering abuse as a young girl, she didn’t speak for five years. But a kind-hearted family friend, Bertha Flowers, introduced her to literature. She began to excel at school and eventually made a living as a singer and dancer. Later she became an editor.
Maya began writing down her childhood memories after being encouraged by other artists to share her stories. Her first book, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (what a title!), went onto become a TV movie, and Maya wrote both the script and the music. She also became the first African-American woman to have a screenplay, Georgia, Georgia, produced.
It takes courage to share difficult truths, yes, but it also takes courage to sit alone and put those truths in print. When we write dangerously we give others the chance to share our courage and find their own. Hard work and courage: these qualities are totally within our grasp. Let’s bring them to the page and shape the future we want for ourselves. Write on!