Interview with Gudjon Bergmann

What's the story behind your latest book?
I have been wanting to write a book about my spiritual search (and all the frustrating things that I found along the way) for years, but I never found an angle that I liked. Then, in 2014, I wrote a poem titled Generation X. It was raw, powerful, and it lit me up. I made the connection between my own search and the jaded postmodern generation of which I was a part. I realized that, as a GenX poster child, my story reflected the struggle of a generation. That was the inspiration for the book. It took me about six months to write and luckily I got plenty of supervision from my friend, Robert Jack, who is a philosopher. He criticized my ideas and helped me hone my message. Overall it was a cathartic experience. Hopefully it will spark a cultural dialogue about Generation X and our search for rational spirituality.
When did you first start writing?
As crazy as it sounds, I began writing poems and short stories in my late teens after I went to a seance and was told that my deceased grandmother, which I had a strained relationship with when she lived, wanted me to write. Whether or not that was true became irrelevant after I started writing. I loved it and still do. I honed my skills as a music journalist in Iceland for five years, translated several books from English to Icelandic, and wrote my first book in Icelandic in 2001. My first book in English, however, was published in 2006. Since then I have written diligently, hopefully improving with every written word. I know that the journey is endless - there is no final destination. Writing is a dedication to a lifelong craft.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I was born in Iceland in 1972 and grew up in Reykjavik. The harsh dark winters nurtured my introverted side, while the long summer nights meant non-stop partying. When I looked over the bay, I could make out the US Navy base in the distance. "That's where the bomb will land;" we used to say to each other as kids, musing about the possibility of a nuclear attack. I didn't start writing earnestly until I quit drinking in 1999. Then, I used the hopeful summer nights as my beacon, trying to see the positive aspects in everything. Now, as I write with more balance, acknowledging both my critical and optimistic side, I see that my circumstances as a child molded me in more ways than one.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
I find all kinds of joy in writing, for example the solitude and the ability to have an internal conversation, but mostly I thrive on the focus that is needed to write. Once I wrote for a whole day from 8 AM to 11 PM with only one or two breaks. By the end of the day I was as energized as I have ever been. It was an exhilarating experience.
What are you working on next?
I am working on two books at the moment, my first novel, titled The Quiet Place, and a dialogue book about a rational approach to the spiritual elements of yoga, titled That Which Does not Change.
Who are your favorite authors?
My favorite authors are: Ken Wilber, Kurt Vonnegut, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Robert A. Heinlein, M. Scott Peck, Dan Millman, Steven Pinker, Jack Kornfield and Howard Gardner.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
My family (two children and wife) comes first. We spend countless hours together, sometimes mundane, sometimes exciting, but I never feel that a moment is wasted when I am with them. Aside from that I teach meditation workshops, read, teach philosophy at a yoga teacher training, watch sports (an avid San Antonio Spurs fan), walk, and do weight lifting. Life is simple at the Bergmann household and that's how I like it.
What is your writing process?
In essence the process is simple. I get an idea. I allow the idea to germinate. I brainstorm about a title, create a detailed table of contents, and write in as many details in bullet point form as I can before I start writing. I have found that good preparation is half the work. The book should be written before it is written (mental clarity). Then I write without editing. Get all my ideas out of my head and into a format that can be molded. I spend quite some time on rewriting as I believe that to be the most important part of the process. Then I bring in an editor. Then I publish. I detailed this process in a guidebook called The Author's Blueprint (2012).
Published 2015-04-29.
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