It’s late May in Aspen and I awoke to eight inches of snow on the ground. Not what I anticipated, but I’ll take it. Because Aspen will always feel warm and inviting, come snow or shine. It’s a jewel of a place for the arts, creative thinking, massive culture, and yes, skiing. This town has been swirling in my consciousness for more than 40 years, beginning with the music festival, where in 1974 I bumped up against music luminaries and dared to imagine a career as a young oboist. That’s when I began to love Aspen.
Fast forward a few decades to June 2015 when I attended the Summer Words writing workshop at Aspen Words. That week was heady and humbling, and by far, one of the most inspiring times of my life. The teaching authors gave freely of their experience, hearts and minds. Panel talks proved to be brilliant and I ended each day with a sense of grounding comfort: that as writers we all face that blank page together no matter our particular station in the world of publishing. I felt as if I’d received an MFA in six days. But midweek I found myself entering Richard Russo’s masterclass, with whom I was workshopping fiction, to share some life-changing news. My memoir, The Skin Above My Knee, had been sold to Little, Brown and Company. Another day to treasure in Aspen.
A few weeks later and back in New York City, Adrienne Brodeur, creative director of Aspen Words, invited me to lunch. She generously offered a monthlong writer-in-residence opportunity through the Catto Shaw Foundation. So, with the help of quiet days, spectacular vistas and hours on end, I spent November 2015 in blissful seclusion. I was able to complete the first draft of the novel I’d workshopped with Richard Russo just five months before. Simply put, Aspen Words has changed my life.
Today, I’m back in Aspen to celebrate the release of my memoir and once again Aspen Words is by my side to help facilitate my career. As long as writers take pen in hand, Aspen Words will continue to support and nurture authors and that special creative imperative: writing. The snow has since melted and Aspen is once again a million shades of green.