Ana Veciana-Suarez on Writing Through Difficult Things and Re-imagining Cervantes
This Week on The Literary Life with Mitchell Kaplan
Ana Veciana-Suarez is much beloved by all of us who know her and have been reading her column in the Miami Herald for many, many years. Syndicated by the Tribune Company, her work is described this way: Ana explores the human experience by touching on the private issues and public events that shape our lives. She pays particular attention to the social issues affecting women and families, often providing poignant tales of the immigrant experience as she tries to make sense of a world hurtling forward at breakneck speed with little regard for its past.
Now Anna brings this sensibility to her new novel Dulcinea, a re-imagining of Cervantes’ Don Quixote. Ana joined me at Books and Books in Coral Gables, Florida.
From the episode:
Mitchell Kaplan: I read an article that you, an essay that you wrote a few weeks ago about writing in the middle of tragedy. And there has been a fair amount of tragedy in your life that you’ve experienced, and for you to maintain this kind of incredible optimism and this credible sense of being present is pretty… it’s something that I’ve always respected so much in you, and I’ve always admired that you’ve been able to do that. Nothing seems—I mean, I’m sure things get you down, but you seem to be able to process it in some way, overcome it, and in the writing of this book, you had to overcome a couple of very, very difficult things.
Ana Veciana-Suarez: Right, and part of it I think is, you know, I’m very good at… Putting things in compartments, and I think once I begin to write, I always save, I can get past that first hour of resistance where you just like, ‘Oh my gosh, why am I doing this?’ Then I’m fine. Because you fall into that world, you kind of inhabit the personality of your characters and you move on.
And journalism helps you in that. You know, you can’t wait for inspiration. You’ve got to write, it’s a job, and it’s a job that pays the bills. But, this essay I wrote, it was a website that asked me, it was writing through grief and that over time, having lost, you know, my first husband died of a heart attack at 37 and, you know, I had five children at home and, but you had no other choice.
But I also think, you know, my parents, I owe a lot to my parents in the sense that my parents, you know, had to do all these things and my mother especially had to put up with so much and she just, you know, she was always, like I said, she would, you know, pick herself up. Dust herself off and move forward.
And if it was on her knees, it was on her knees. As long as you were moving forward. And I’ve told my kids, I hope that if there’s any lesson that I’ve imparted to you is that because we all, you know, we don’t know what another person is going through. We really don’t know. Sometimes, you know, you meet people and you think they have this perfect life, and then you just scratch a little and you think, oh my gosh.