Maureen Murdock: Writing the Truth
Guest Speaker: Maureen Murdock
Topic: Writing the Truth
Date: July 15, 2009
Times: 11 am Pacific | 12 noon Mountain | 1 pm Central | 2 pm Eastern
Memoir is not a linear autobiography recounting a fully lived life, but rather a selected aspect of the writer’s life, written from his or her point of view. The memoirist recounts the incidents in her life to the best of her recollection. Does that mean she will have perfect recall? No, memoir is not about perfect accuracy of the remembered event; it’s more about finding perspective and making meaning of that particular slice of one’s life. The struggle for emotional truth is central to memoir. When you are talking about yourself, you are talking about all of us to a certain degree. The reader must trust that the memoirist has done a fair amount of introspection and is trying to give us her best understanding of the event. If she stays at the same flat level of self-disclosure and understanding throughout, the piece may be smooth but will not awaken a sense of self-recognition.
- Whose story is yours to tell?
- What if I can’t remember what was said?
- Factual recounting of an event versus emotional memory
- The ethics of memoir writing
- Beware: the act of writing about another person can not help but change your relationship with that person (living or dead)
- Fictional memoirs
Maureen Murdock teaches memoir in Santa Barbara, at the San Francisco Writing Salon, in the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program and in workshops internationally. She is the author of the best-selling book, The Heroine’s Journey, as well as Unreliable Truth: On Memoir and Memory, Fathers’ Daughters: Breaking the Ties that Bind; Spinning Inward: Using Guided Imagery with Children; and The Heroine’s Journey Workbook. She edited a anthology of her students’ work entitled Monday Morning Memoirs: Women in the Second Half of Life and her books have been translated into a dozen languages. She has recently completed an unpublished memoir about madness and addiction in the family entitled Hooked on Hope: A Mother’s Tale. Her website is www.maureenmurdock.com