BJ Hollars is the author of Bear Country, which appeared in our October 2015 issue. We connected with him about the writing process. Here are his responses.
What inspired you to write Bear Country?
I wanted my children to remember what they are likely too young to remember now.
What was the greatest challenge in writing it?
Writing this essay was a means to stare directly into grief. The challenge, for me, was figuring out where the emotions ended and the story began. It was hard to know which moments in this essay were important to my family, and which moments might resonate with a wider audience.
How do your children inform your writing?
They are the people I write for, and often, the people I write about. My primary motivation for writing is to provide them a few glimpses into some of the more poignant moments in our lives. The downside, of course, is that when too much time is spend preserving poignant moments, there is less time to make those moments.
How do you balance writing and fatherhood?
This is no easy answer. As I write this in my basement, I can hear my children’s feet pattering just above. A better father would leap from the computer and run upstairs to join them. And yet, the work must also get done. The balance, I think, comes from waking earlier than they do, and staying up later. Those are the moments when the best works occurs—the moments when you’re sure you’re not missing anything more important.
Do you share any of your writing with your children (if they are old enough of course)
Sometimes I try, but they’d much rather me read a Berenstain Bears book.