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Writing Down The Soul 2020With Maureen Murdock and Jennifer Leigh Selig

This program welcomes participants who:

  • Have always wanted to write a full-length memoir or try their hand at shorter personal reflections
  • Have already written memoir pieces and want to bring a depth perspective to their writing
  • Have a desire to cultivate a sense of archetypal and mythic consciousness in their writing
  • Wish to honor a soul-filled perspective towards creative imagination.
  • Desire the structure and support a thoughtful writing community can offer

Writing Down the Soul breathed beauty and life into my writing. It was a deeply rewarding experience. I highly recommend it to anyone who has the desire to write, deepen their connection with others and make meaning of their own lives.”
— Ruth Salmon

Featured in The Writer Magazine 

Opening Residential Weekend with Maureen Murdock and Jennifer Leigh Selig:

Memoir’s particular appeal lies not only in its truth-telling but in the effort the writer makes to reveal herself. Mary Karr writes, “A psychological self-awareness and faith in the power of truth gives you the courage to reveal whatever you unearth, whether you come out looking vain, or conniving or hateful or not.” The essence of a great memoir is the voice of the writer and how she brings the reader into a scene with sensory details. The memoir has to deliver vivid characters, evocative settings, and pitch-perfect dialogue for the reader to remain interested. This opening residential aims to help you uncover your truth, develop insight into the larger themes of your story, and cast yourself as a compelling character. We’ll read excerpts by published memoirists such as Mary Karr, Abigail Thomas, Brando Skyhorse, and Myra Shapiro as examples of character development, dialogue, and structure, and we’ll spend some time with writing exercises each day.

Online format description

The online portion of the certificate program, facilitated by Jennifer Leigh Selig, takes place over eight months, each covering a distinct theme in memoir writing. The month begins with select readings on the theme, accompanied by a video presentation and an online discussion. In the middle of each month, participants have the option of joining a live online discussion of a recommended “memoir of the month.” Each month ends with the posting of 2-4 pages of memoir writing by participants for small group and faculty feedback. Participants may choose to submit pages of an ongoing memoir in the process or may produce new material in response to suggested writing prompts.

Online Topics Include:

  1. “Making Sense of the Senseless,” and Other Reasons We Write (and Read) Memoirs
  2. Anatomy of a Memoir: Story as Flesh, Structure as Bones  
  3. To Tell the Truth, the Whole Truth, and Nothing But the Truth(?)
  4. Whose Story Is It? Writing Sensitively About Others in Our Lives
  5. Memory Matters: Imaginal Remembering and Other Depth Psychological Approaches to Embodying and Enlivening Our Memories
  6. “Psyche Equals Voice,” Or How to Write Pages That Sing With Soul
  7. The Power of Metaphor and the Potential of Key Images
  8. The Path of Personal Transformation: The Alchemy of Memoir Writing

Closing Residential Weekend with Maureen Murdock and Jennifer Leigh Selig

After nine months of intensive memoir writing, it’s time to give birth! Participants will celebrate their labors as a community with Maureen and Jennifer as midwives. Everyone will be encouraged to read aloud from self-selected pages of their memoir writing. Special guest memoirist Kelly Carlin, author of A Carlin Home Companion: Growing Up With George, will join us and share her story of writing her memoir about her celebrity father. Together we’ll take a backward glance and discuss the insights we experienced and the inroads we made on our individuation journeys vis-à-vis writing our memoirs, and we’ll glance forward as well and discuss venues for publishing memoir essays and full-length books, including mainstream, small press, and self-publishing options. Participants will be invited to submit a piece of their writing for a compilation book commemorating the course.

*Optional Residential Retreat

During this optional four-day retreat, participants will re-gather in community with Jennifer, who will draw from her 31 years of teaching both writing and depth psychology and offer presentations to inspire both craft and calling. A special focus will be placed on the role of the body as a site of memory, including a special guest speaker who will offer an interactive workshop on embodied memory. There will be time for writing, for revising, and for workshopping memoir pages on the peaceful Ladera Lane campus.

Program Testimonials

“Thanks for this course. I dreamed about it, a little afraid it would disappoint. It’s even more wonderful than I thought possible. Writing memoir is about not being alone, it’s about the struggle to live life, face death among many other things. All of you are a wonderful team and I am profoundly grateful.”

~Shirley Munoz

“Jennifer Selig has masterfully crafted a memoir course. As true professionals, ardent teachers, and skilled writers they braid the essential elements of memoir— technique, structure and voice—into a deeply resonant experience of one’s soul. Taking this course was a stellar gift to my writerly self.”

~Dr. Christine Flaherty

Maureen Murdock, Ph.D., is a Jungian-oriented psychotherapist in private practice in Santa Barbara, CA where she teaches weekly memoir classes and leads workshops internationally. Since 1990, she has taught memoir writing in the UCLA Extensions Writers’ Program where she received the Outstanding Teacher of the Year Award in 1995. She was Core Faculty and Chair of the M.A. Counseling Program at Pacifica Graduate Institute and continues as adjunct faculty. She is the author of the best-selling book, The Heroine’s Journey, which explores the rich territory of the feminine psyche and delineates the feminine psycho-spiritual journey. Murdock is also the author of 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 is the editor of an anthology of memoir writing entitled Monday Morning Memoirs: Women in the Second Half of Life and has published a Kindle short entitled The Emergence of Bipolar Disorder: A Mother’s Perspective. Her books have been translated into a dozen languages. You can read her blog on her website:

Jennifer SeligJennifer Leigh Selig, Ph.D., has been in the classroom as either a student or a teacher (and often both at the same time) ever since she was five years old. She is the co-editor and author of several books, including Reimagining Education: Essays on Reviving the Soul of Learning (2009); The Soul Does Not Specialize: Revaluing the Humanities and the Polyvalent Imagination (2012); Integration: The Psychology and Mythology of Martin Luther King, Jr. and His (Unfinished) Therapy With the Soul of America (2012); and A Tribute to James Hillman: Reflections on a Renegade Psychologist (2014). Her forthcoming book, Deep Creativity: 7 Ways to Awaken Your Artistic Spirit (Shambhala Books) co-written with Deborah Anne Quibell and Dennis Patrick Slattery, contains many of her memoir pieces. An interview with Jennifer on Writing Down the Soul was featured in The Writer magazine.[/fusion_text][/one_full][/fullwidth][fullwidth background_color=”” background_image=”” background_parallax=”none” enable_mobile=”no” parallax_speed=”0.3″ background_repeat=”no-repeat” background_position=”left top” video_url=”” video_aspect_ratio=”16:9″ video_webm=”” video_mp4=”” video_ogv=”” video_preview_image=”” overlay_color=”” overlay_opacity=”0.5″ video_mute=”yes” video_loop=”yes” fade=”no” border_size=”0px” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” padding_top=”20″ padding_bottom=”0″ padding_left=”” padding_right=”” hundred_percent=”no” equal_height_columns=”no” hide_on_mobile=”no” menu_anchor=”” class=”” id=”nav-section4″][one_full last=”yes” spacing=”yes” center_content=”no” hide_on_mobile=”no” background_color=”” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” background_position=”left top” hover_type=”none” link=”” border_position=”all” border_size=”0px” border_color=”” border_style=”” padding=”” margin_top=”” margin_bottom=”” animation_type=”” animation_direction=”” animation_speed=”0.1″ animation_offset=”” class=”” id=””][title size=”2″ content_align=”left” style_type=”none” sep_color=”” margin_top=”” margin_bottom=”” class=”” id=””]General Information[/title][fusion_text]SCHOLARSHIPS:
A limited number of scholarships are available for this program.

Pacifica Graduate Institute’s Ladera Lane Campus
801 Ladera Lane, Santa Barbara, CA 93108

Overnight housing is available at Pacifica’s Ladera Lane Campus.  Reservations  can be made online at the time of registration, or by contacting

It is the Institute’s goal is to make facilities, programs, and experiences accessible to all members of the community. The Institute works individually with those who are disabled to determine how individual needs can best be met.  For additional information regarding Disability Services, please visit

For additional information, including travel, cancellation policy, and disability services please visit our general information section.