6 lessons David Bergen has learned from 25 years writing fiction

The 2018 Matt Cohen Award recipient reflects on what he's learned over the course of his career.
David Bergen accepts the Writers' Trust Matt Cohen Award on Nov. 7, 2018. (Writers' Trust of Canada/Tom Sandler)

David Bergen is the 2018 recipient of the Writers' Trust Matt Cohen Award, a $25,000 award that recognizes a writer for their dedication to pursuing writing as their sole profession.

When accepting the award at a ceremony on Nov. 7, 2018, Bergen outlined the lessons he has learned from spending 25 years working as a writer. Here's an excerpt from his speech.

1. Find a good first reader who won't put up with any bullshit. I found that in [my wife] Mary, with whom I have lived for 40 years.

2. Don't take anything for granted.

3. Always be thankful for that moment when a story lands and the back of your head tingles and you know that you have caught something and you pray that it will flourish.

4. Know that this might never happen again.

5. You're never as good, or as bad, as people say you are.

6. Writing is play, and play is the path to the inner world. 

Following his win Bergen spoke with the host of CBC Winnipeg's Marcy Markusa about the award and his decorated literary career.

Author David Bergen speaks with CBC Manitoba's Marcy Markusa about his Writers' Trust Matt Cohen Award win. 5:43

David Bergen is the author of several novels, including The Time in Between, which won the Scotiabank Giller Prize in 2005, The Matter with Morris, which was shortlisted for the same prize in 2010, and The Age of Hope, which was defended by Ron MacLean on Canada Reads 2013.


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