How David Bergen found his first story
The Giller Prize-winning author of The Time in Between describes the paradigm shift that led to his first published story.
It took me ten years to write a proper story. I floundered about trying to shape something, counting on the 'feeling' I had as I wrote, only to discover upon re-reading my work that the feeling had disappeared and what remained was an empty shell. I refused at first to believe that my own experience, my own past, had anything to offer me. I wrote stories set in foreign places to which I had never traveled. My characters were British, they had strange accents, and they were certainly not Mennonite or lowly. They ate dinner, not supper.
And then, one day, I sat down to write about my older brother, who was a bush pilot and missionary in Irian Jaya. I called him Timothy and the narrator was Thomas and within a few lines the facts disappeared and imagination took over and I was writing a story that came out of my own experience, but it was fiction. The story wrote quickly, I called it 'Where You're From' and I sent it out, as I had numerous other stories over the years. Except this time I got a letter back saying that it would be published. Someone out there had liked the story. I was thirty-one years old.