Mythmaking: Self-Discovery and the Timeless Art of Memoir

Maureen Murdock
Published in 2024
by Shambhala

In Mythmaking, psychotherapist and writing teacher Maureen Murdock explores the memoir genre through the lens of ancient myths and archetypes. Murdock offers close examinations of contemporary memoirs—including Terry Tempest Williams’s Refuge, Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking, and David Carr’s The Night of the Gun—for an understanding of the rich scope of the genre and their thematic connections with ancient myths. The first part of the book encourages readers to explore their own personal mythology asking questions that are central to memoir, such as, “Who am I?” and “What is my journey?” The second part of the book considers common themes in one’s life to reflect upon, such as home and homecoming, loss, and spirituality. At the end of each chapter are writing prompts to help writers get started on their journey, along with more prompts and a bibliography of exemplary memoirs in the appendix. “Memoirs help us find meaning in our lives by showing us how our lives fit into a larger mythic pattern,” writes Murdock. “The essence of memoir is to participate in the writer’s struggle to achieve some understanding of the events, traumas, and triumphs of their personal recollection.”