I just got a really funny rejection letter.
An editor from a little homeschooling magazine had asked me for article pitches. The circulation was small. She wanted something basic and general. Something about what I’ve learned from homeschooling. Some challenges. Some triumphs. Something encouraging for parents who are doing this now.
I sent her a pitch. I proposed an article called “How homeschooling made me different.” It’d mostly be about how homeschooling taught me to be comfortable being myself. And it would also discuss some challenges, like how some of my relentless ambition stems from wanting to prove myself, as a homeschooler. I was not, for the record, looking forward to writing the article. But I try not to turn down homeschooling publications. I reminded myself that this is the stuff I write because it’s the right thing to do, not because it’s going to advance my career.
And then she sent me a rejection letter. The piece was not a good fit for her publication.
I was so surprised that I laughed aloud. Wait. What?
Here I was, pretty sure she would take whatever I proposed. Wondering if I should just say no, since the magazine wasn’t going to be able to help me out.
I wrote her back. I never do that. A rejection is a rejection. That’s the business. Believe me, I’ve gotten plenty of them. You don’t talk back. You move on.
I asked her what was going on.
And then she explained why she’d rejected me. I was too negative. Not encouraging enough. I was not happy enough about having been homeschooled. I was talking about challenges too much. I was not celebrating what the Lord had given me.
Suddenly the Lord was involved, and he sounded like he might be pissed at me.
He might be pissed that I wasn’t appreciative enough of the great gift I had been given.
Well, hang on. I am very appreciative! I wouldn’t have changed my childhood for anything!
Actually, I couldn’t believe that someone was accusing me of being too negative about homeschooling. That is literally the first time that has happened. Too positive is what I usually get. Too eager to defend it.
I told her that I am positive about homeschooling, and she said she’d be happy to read some other pitches from me. But it feels different now. I’m annoyed that she’s not letting her readers hear from someone who isn’t only saying that homeschooling is absolutely perfect. Isn’t it better to tell the whole story? Isn’t it better to be able to believe in the good stuff, because you’re comfortable acknowledging the not- so-good stuff, too?
I hate the idea of a dialogue about homeschooling that’s whitewashed, purified, and devoid of real experience. That’s exactly what we DON’T need to have.
So here. Here are the things about homeschooling that were negative:
1. I didn’t meet a ton of boys my own age, so I dated kind of icky ones.
2. I got really, really cocky for a few of my teenage years, and thought that I had to be the best at everything I tried to do. Which was emotionally tiring.
3. I respected my parents so much that when my friends had problems with theirs, I ALWAYS took their parents’ side. OK, I’m not sure how negative that really was, and I’m glad for the respect I had/have towards my parents. It was just kind of awkward.
4. I didn’t get to eat enough dessert because my mom is a health nut.
5. I really do feel like I need to prove myself. It’s important to me to succeed in obvious, markable, typical ways. This isn’t true for homeschoolers. It’s true for me.
6. I picked an unconventional path, which makes obvious success harder sometimes. I picked that path because I learned as a homeschooler that I didn’t have to do the same things as other people in order to have a good life.
7. I expect to have a happy life. I expect it a lot. I had a happy childhood. I wasn’t often bored. And I have high standards for my life now. Sometimes they make things harder.
8. I sometimes don’t know how I’m supposed to be as a girl, like I wrote about in the last post. Because I didn’t grow up with lots of other girls the same age. This might not be negative.
9. I can’t think of very much else. Wait. I’m still mad at my mom for not trusting me enough to stop making me do math. We have different ideas about homeschooling that cause tension. And that’s totally because I was homeschooled.
OK, I’m done. That’s it for now. The truth about homeschooling.
Now I have to decide what to write back to that editor.