Beth K. Vogt believes God’s best often waits behind the doors marked “Never.” A nonfiction writer and editor who said she’d never write fiction, Beth is now a novelist with Howard Books. Her novels include Wish You Were Here (2012), Catch a Falling Star (2013), and Somebody Like You (May 2014). She enjoys writing inspirational contemporary romance because she believes there’s more to happily-ever-after than the fairy tales tell us. Beth is also the Skills Coach for My Book Therapy writing community. Connect with Beth on her web site or check out her blog on quotes, In Others’ Words. Social Media Links include Facebook, Twitter. and Pinterist.
Maya Angelou, an acclaimed American author and poet, died on Wednesday, May 28, at age 86. The news saddened me, as I often highlighted her quotes on my blog, In Others’ Words. I admired her outlook on life – and will continue to do so. There are some things death can’t change. Ms. Angelou encouraged me to look past the hardest of circumstances and see what is good. To embrace hope.
As a writer, I also value how Ms. Angelou dared to write real, to write honest. Growing up, she survived some of the harshest experiences: abandonment, abuse and homelessness. She found the courage to write the brutal truth about what man meant for evil … and allowed God to use her words for good.
Last Wednesday, I sifted through her quotes online, pondering the wisdom of a woman who did not allow her circumstances to define her. When I read this quote, I paused:
“Words mean more than what is set down on paper. It takes the human voice to infuse them with deeper meaning.”
As writers, we so often talk of voice – we define it and refine it, striving to fashion our own distinctive writer’s voiceMs. Angelou hit upon a fundamental truth when she peered past the words we set down on paper and listened to the human voice, straining to hear the “distinctive writer’s voice.”
As a poet and novelist, Ms. Angelou wove her hurts and hopes into the words she wrote and infused them with a deeper meaning that touched innumerable hearts.
I imbue the words I write with meaning because they are mine. They pour forth, some days more easily than others, saturated with my life experience, my point of view. I am not some detached narrator scripting a story. No – I’m invested in every novel I write, mind, heart and soul, and all the more so as I recognize and claim my voice.
I write a novel because I care. Yes, I care about the characters, about the plot. But even more, I care about the questions these true-to-life imaginary characters ask, the temptations they fight, the wounds they bear that need healing. I’ve asked my own questions – and lain awake at night, waiting for answers. I’ve fought my own battles, winning some and losing some. And I’ve sought healing for both seen and unseen wounds.
If I am courageous enough I will write both the brutal truth that does not shy away from heartaches and hardships – and offer hope that our lives can be transformed by the beautiful Truth.
Maya Angelou was right: Words mean more than what is set down on paper. And I determine what truths I weave into my novels to deepen them, hoping to touch readers’ hearts.
How are you infusing your words with deeper meaning?