Expat Writer in Spain: Maureen Dolan
Maureen Dolan tells about the passion and interest in blossoming out and calling herself a writer at age 51.
Name: Maureen Dolan
Country of residence: Spain
Reason for moving to new country of residence: Job loss in UK. Trailing spouse to Spanish husband.
Title(s) of book(s)
Translation into English of Reyes y Reinas de España by Pilar Ramos Vicent, Centro Superior de Cultura Española, Logograph Multimedia, S.L. Madrid, 2004, in collaboration with José Ramón Parrondo Rodríguez.
Why did you start writing?
I´ve always written, although I´ve never really published. I wrote a doctoral thesis on Hispanic theatre in the US. I´m currently writing a novel.
What do you write about?
My current project is entitled "Skinflint", and is the story of an archaeologist who moves to Spain and through the love of a young Romanian man begins to heal herself and her marriage in the context of excavating Spain´s historic memory.
What do you like most about writing?
I love everything about writing. I love the research, the feel of the pen and the keys, the thinking, the slog, the editing and re-reading, the despair and the beauty of the black text on the white page.
What aspects about being a writer do you find difficult?
Not being able to get at it. For many years I felt I had nothing to say but that´s not the case now.
How has living abroad influenced your work as a writer?
It´s become all that´s left to me. I decided that rather than do a menial job despite my qualifications I´d give myself over to my first love.
Are writing groups/courses easy to find in the country you live in?
Not in my town but in Madrid, yes. Yet as a mother and with the late meeting hour I haven´t gone to any yet. I´m thinking of starting my own group in my town.
Which writers have inspired you the most?
As a hispanist, many Latin American women writers have inspired me, perhaps in particular Elena Poniatowska´s "Until We Meet Again Sweet Jesus." It´s a picaresque novel on the sorry life of a poor woman at the time of the Mexican Revolution. But I read very widely and find it hard to mention anyone in particular.
What hurdles, if any, have you encountered on your path to becoming a published writer?
I´m not published yet so, although I have written a few articles in worthy journals about things hispanic.
How do you deal with rejection or harsh comments?
If they´re fair, I learn from them. This is the case with the three wonderful readers of the draft of my first novel.
What advice would you give to budding writers?
I think you have to find a balance between being out in the world and hiding yourself away to write. Social media are a help here, since even if you don´t leave your desk, you can interact with like-minded people instantly (if you have the discipline to sign out, of course!).
Would you like to add anything that we haven't addressed in the questionnaire?
I would add that blogging, translation, conversation classes and English story-telling seem to me to be grist to the mill of becoming a writer. At 51, I´ve decided to call myself a "writer" in the hope that by naming it I can pull the potential to be one out of myself. It´s absolutely everything I want to be.
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