This week we lost an amazing writer with an amazing voice, a voice we might very well have never heard. Maya Angelou's story has been told and retold, by herself and others, but the world might very well have never known it, or her, if she had not begun the process by telling her own story.
Maya Angelou, who died this week, spent five years of her young life completely mute, refusing to speak a word between the ages of eight and thirteen. She had been sexually assaulted, just a child, and when she told the truth about what had happened to her, the man responsible for her assault was found dead, probably beaten to death in retaliation by her older relatives.
She stopped speaking, believing she was responsible for his death. "I thought I had killed him," she later explained. "I killed that man, because I told his name. And then I thought I would never speak again, because my voice would kill anyone."
Like so many people who have written about Angelou this week, I have been inspired by her life and her words, especially the ones quoted here. Again and again, I have been able to overcome my reluctance to speak my own truth and tell my own stories, and a lot of the credit for my own small amount of courage goes to Angelou's example.
We are nearly at the end of another month of writing and I am looking forward to the start of the summer session at Hopkins where I am enrolled in Fiction Workshop. I hope to workshop at least two or three pieces this summer in that course, but I am also very much looking forward to reading manuscripts from other writers in the class, getting to know new authors, and hearing their stories.
We all have untold stories inside us, stories that the world needs to hear. What is yours?
For more of my photos, see Flickr. As you'll probably notice from my Flickr page, I love taking photos of the moon! The shot above was taken last fall from Dewey Beach, Delaware. If you look carefully to the left of the rising moon, you can see a tiny light from a ship in the Atlantic out along the horizon.