Q&A With Bruce Hornidge

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Q&A With Bruce Hornidge 

My friend and publicist Mickey Mikkelson has connected me with several more authors this month. One of my guests for this Q&A is with author Bruce Hornidge who is the author of the memoir Loggerheads. 

Q: Bruce would you like to tell the readers of the blog and I a little bit about your memoir Loggerheads?

A: My career was as a trained power saw tree faller at Macmillan Bloedel Kennedy Lake logging division on the West Coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia, from 1972-1997. This period included the 1993 anti logging “War in the Woods’ ‘ protest of 1993 in the Clayoquot Sound region. Loggerheads is my memoir about a three-decade career in the woods and the people I worked with. I was at odds with many bad logging practices and management personalities on any given work day. The name Loggerheads fit the story because we were often at loggerheads. The political settlement of the protest issues resulted in everyone’s job loss by 1997, and that’s when my career of choice ended. This memoir is about that job loss and its effect on me. That is the truth of the story. I felt I needed to tell my side of the story. Much was made of the anti-logging lobby at the time, but I felt foresters didn’t get to tell their side. 

Q: What pushed you to write Loggerheads now?

A: It happens to be the 30th anniversary of the War in the Woods in Clayoquot Sound, so the timing seems perfect. But the truth is, I’ve been working on this book in stages for those three decades. 

I wrote the initial pieces called “Nightmare” and “Apocalypse.” These were somewhat of a rant and a wail about job loss. I did not handle that loss very well, and those pieces really talked about that. I have always been a writer of logging stories and editorial articles for newspapers, which were often well-received. But an editor friend pushed me to form a book of logging stories. She helped me organize the narrative, alternating between the crisis and recollections of my career. She may have saved me from a rant or two. Overall, Loggerheads has been well received as a reflection of that side of the logging story.  

The other aspect to Loggerheads is the wider story that many livelihoods and lines of industry face the fallout that comes with social change as the world moves around us. The bigger idea is how do we handle that change? And do we see the humanity and the fragility of those whose livelihoods are in peril? It’s a call to empathy in this world, in a way. 

Q: If you are currently writing your next book right now, is it another memoir or is it fiction this time around?

A: A book of short non-fiction pieces about life in the woods is just about done. World War Two battle history fascinates me, and I’m working on a novel set in the Gulf War era, about heroism and sacrifice. Clearly, I’m a guy who likes to stay busy. 

Q: What advice would you give to anyone wanting to write a memoir?

A: We all have stories. The interesting parts of our lives, in terms of people wanting to read them, are the parts where big things happen, or where there are big emotions. You don’t have to write an entire autobiography. The interesting part might be that time you were in the hospital for 49 days, or that time you hitchhiked across the country as a young adult. 

You might start with a timeline of your life to figure out what’s the most interesting part. Write down the memories—don’t worry about editing it until you’ve got it written down. Write with thousands of words. Once you have 40,000 words or so, get an editor to CRITIQUE the writing and make suggestions, then do as they say whenever possible. It’s hard to part with your favorite words—they call it “killing your darlings.” Above all, just write!