Creativity as Salvation

Published by Tiffany on

Creativity as Salvation

When we are Brave Podcast with Tiffany Johnson, Interview with NYT Best-selling author Aspen Matis

Creativity as Salvation

New York Times best-selling author Aspen Matis shares with us her ability to use creativity to unlock reality when reality becomes overwhelming and difficult.

Aspen talks about:

  • Aspen shares with us the process of writing her first book Girl in the woods. Her essay was published in the New York Times origionally, when she received a book deal for Girl in the Woods. Wanting to be authentic, she shared her whole story of why she was a girl in the woods. On her second night at college Apen was raped. She decided that she would walk off her rape by walking from Mexico to Canada. This was the beginning of her memoir.
  • With the aid of her mentor, Apsen wrote the full account of what had happened to her. Once she shared her story, she heard from many other people who had also kept their trauma a secret. Rape is a too bigger secret to hold inside your body, it’s like a dark pearl, it consumes you and has so much more power over you than it would have had, if you told it like it was. You would see that you are not the terrible disgusting thing but that the rape is. Her memtor told her: Secrets become lies, lead the least secretive life you can lead. This began the truth in her memoir.
  • Girl in the woods was a difficult book to write because as it was the story of how she met her husband – Justin. They met on the PCT 600 miles from Canada, unable to leave each other, they stayed together, eventually marring.
  •  After 3 years of marriage, a mutual friend of their’s died, Justin attended the funeral, and he never came home. Justin became a missing person.
  • Having to stick to her contract and complete her memoir Girl in the woods, Aspen had to write her love story while she was grieving the loss of her husband.
  • The one thing that Aspen had left in life, when she was heartbroken, broke and lost, was her book. Having a love of writing, Aspen was able to use her creativity as a distraction. Creativity became her salvation.  Through her writing, Aspen could relive past heartaches, triumphs and past traumas. She could remember the magic and beauty of the High Sierra she had hiked through in the gorgeous wilderness, sinking into her memories, when reality got too hard to take. But then, sometimes the parts of her story where she had to write about Justin’s and her early love, was traumatic.
  • What she learnt from this is that you’re so much stronger than you might think you are. You’re so much more resilient than what society might tell you you are, especially as a woman.
  • In her moments of despair, Aspen realised she was abusing alcohol and using it to escape from the reality of her life as she mourned the loss of her husband. She finally decided that she needed to stop drinking and that the reasons for her drinking were what she had been trying to avoid. These things where what she needed to face the most. Determined to get her life back on track. Aspen, stoped abusing alcohol, and she was finally able to bring clarity back into her life. 
  • The only way out is through. She had to go through it to get to the other side.
  • One of the most important tools for her to be brave during this period in her life were her friendships. Friendships of honesty, vulnerability, truth and openess  were life-saving, helping her to be brave. Two extraordinary people in her life helped her every step of the journey. Talking about what was going on and the truth of life, facing what was really there and discovering the gems in the dark caves was a true and honest friendship.
  • As Aspen wrote, she discovered that there is an alchemy of truth in memoir, in being authentic and being brave.
  • Aspen shares how she utilised a free phone service to get assistance for times of trouble, for compassion and guidance. For anyone who has been through a trauma, there are many great resources available to you for support. You can contact Life-Line, The Salvation Army and RAINN as Aspen mentions.
  • Aspen’s next book starts where your blue is not my blue left off. After the death of a dear friend of Aspen’s, she began on a road trip to honour her friend. But what her trip will unfold will open the new and next chapter for Aspen’s life.

Apen's Tips for Living Bravely

When we are Brave Podcast with Tiffany Johnson, interview with Aspen Matis
  • Creativity can be a salvation
  • You’re so much stronger than you might think you are.
  • Facing what was really there and discovering the gems in the dark caves was a true and honest friendship.
  • There is an alchemy when we are authentic, brave and true.
When we are Brave Podcast with Tiffany Johnson Interview with Aspen Matis

Connect with Aspen:



Aspens Books:

Girl in the Woods

Your Blue is Not My Blue

Help Lines:




United States of America


So my friends, until next time, live your best and bravest life.


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