Friday, September 28, 2012


This week's blog topic was "Have you ever wanted to give up on writing?"... and I have to say that my answer surprised me: "No."

Now, don't get me wrong. I've hit rough patches... patches so rough I was sure I'd never make it any further. Like Jenn, who posted yesterday, I've frequently slowed down so far it seemed I had stopped. And I've had to grow through multiple completed manuscripts before I found the story that was "it." But through all of this, I've always wanted to keep writing. I just didn't know if I could keep writing.

So, when faced with this week's blog topic, my immediate thought was: "Why on earth haven't you ever given up on writing?"And that, I think, is the real question.

For me, the answer was very personal: I found a story that was so powerful it wouldn't let me give up on it.

When I first came across the small article in a non-profit journal that told about the kidnapping, mutilation, and murder of people with albinism in Africa for use as good luck talismans, I was horrified. I raced away to learn more. Except... there wasn't any more. There were no books on the subject and very little press coverage. Disturbed, I tried to walk away from the story. But it haunted me.

The grown-up in me, the one that had worked with village micro-finace and refugee resettlement programs, felt the need to publicize this human rights tragedy. The kid in me, the one who had to hide from the tropical sun and could never blend into a crowd (I grew up overseas, the daughter of international aid workers) wanted to tell the story of what it must feel like to be a kid who has those problems in the extreme. After months of trying to not write, I sat down and started GOLDEN BOY. It hasn't been an easy journey, but the need to share this story kept pulling me back until it was finished.

And that, I think is what makes us writers. The fact that a story, an idea, a feeling, a concept, a character, catches us up and grabs us and doesn't let go. And we let it. Let's be honest here. As writers, wanting to quit or not doesn't really matter. Our stories won't let us.

Tara Sullivan is a high school Spanish teacher by day and a middle grade fiction writer by night. Dawn and dusk usually find her drinking tea and reading or hiking with her big furry mutt.
Her debut novel, GOLDEN BOY (G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers / Penguin) tells the story of Habo, an albino boy growing up in modern-day Tanzania who finds out that being seen as priceless is much more dangerous than being seen as worthless.
She'd love you puddle around her website or follow her on Twitter!


  1. GOLDEN BOY sounds incredible, and your passion for the project is obvious. Congratulations on never quitting till the story was told.

  2. Wow, Tara. You've lived an interesting life. (And ditto Sarah: GB sounds awesome.)

  3. I have found there is a pleasant hardheadedness to most of the writers I meet. Once we find a story that means something to us...we quietly push forward. I can’t wait to read GOLDEN BOY, Tara!

  4. I agree with what everyone else has said here, Tara. Can't wait to read GOLDEN BOY, and the fact that you have such a personal connection to this story makes it that much more compelling.