Maureen Murdock is an author, educator, Jungian-oriented psychotherapist and photographer. Author of the bestselling book, The Heroine’s Journey, Maureen conducts workshops on memoir writing and personal myth. She combines her interest in the mysterious workings of the psyche with a study of mythology and a love of storytelling and memoir writing. Maureen’s popularity as an author, lecturer, and workshop presenter has enriched the lives of thousands of people. Her books have been translated into over a dozen languages.
Q. Did you always know you wanted to be a writer?
A. No, I wanted to be an artist.
Q. What inspires you?
A. The prose of good memoirists like Jeanette Winterson, Mary Karr and Jennifer Boylan.
Q. Can you tell us a little bit about your latest project?
A. I have been working on a book-length memoir about my relationship with my bipolar son, which takes a universal look at how motherhood is a profound journey, which includes loss and acceptance.
Q. Do you have any advice/cure/ for the infamous “writer’s block”?
A. Take your writer for a long walk in nature or by the sea and find out what your writer needs. Maybe she needs a bit of a vacation from your nagging. Send her in your imagination to Hawaii for a couple of weeks and go back to your writing room and read a good book or look at some artwork that inspires you.
Q. How did you get started in the writing industry and what is your best piece of advice to people interested in pursuing writing as a career?
A. I was very lucky. I first self-published a book on guided imagery with children that was noticed in the library at Naropa Institute by the then-publisher of Shambhala Publications. He asked the librarian how to contact me and I had just taught a workshop there so she told him. He contacted me, asked me to add three chapters to the book and published it as Spinning Inward in 1987. From there I wrote The Heroine’s Journey and The Heroine’s Journey Workbook for Shambhala and then got book deals from Ballantine and Seal Press. My best piece of advice is to not get discouraged when the rejections come in. And they DO come in. Keep at it. You’ve got to write for the love of it because very few writers make a living from it.
Q. What is one interesting thing about you that most people don’t know?
A. I worked with the Huastecan Indians in Mexico and, at the time, learned their language.
Q. What is the best food you’ve eaten in the past week?
A. Eggplant Parmigiano at Tre Lune in Montecito.
Q. Is there anything new on your plate? What can we expect from you in the future?
A. I just wrote a nonfiction piece on working at San Luis Obispo Men’s Prison; I will continue to write about the criminal justice system.
Q. What is one thing you are really looking forward to with the Summer Writing Institute?
A. Hearing all the wonderful stories from the memoirists I will be working with. Being inspired by other writers.
Q: How important is networking and social media in the field of writing?
A. I’m finding that it’s very helpful to have a blog; I appreciate the feedback I receive from the people who read the blog: maureenmurdockblog.com. Keeping up with the blog, however, takes time, time that takes away from my other writing.
Q: Do you have any practices regarding the above question that you have found successful?Any websites you swear by, any online communities that have been helpful, etc.?
A. Narrative Magazine’s blog.
Q: What was the best piece of advice about writing or becoming a writer that someone has ever given you?
A. Make a commitment to your work and show up at a regular time to write. Make an appointment with your writer even if you don’t have anything to say. Listen.