In which a homeschooler tries to write contemporary YA

“Maybe I’ll just set it in a small college and then get my editor to help me change everything to high school details after the manuscript gets accepted.”

“I think I should Snapchat my sister who is actually in high school and see if that gives me more inspiration.”

“These problems are pretty universal, right?”

“Do they still use bells to make you change classes? How do you know what class to go to on the first day? Do you just like, show up and go to an orientation seminar?”

“Teachers in the movies like Dead Poets Society and Stand and Deliver are pretty realistic, right?”

“How do you know which bus stop is yours? Maybe I should find someone to let me do a ride along. For research.”

“This is the only circumstance where I can see having a kid would really help your writing, but it’d take too long to wait until he or she is in high school, so I guess I’m stuck at square one again.”

“Teenagers read Dante in high school these days, right? They HAVE to. Right?”

“How do sports work?”

“I think I’ll just write this about theater kids. Or summer camp. Yeah, summer camp.”

“Do they still use blackboards? Or do the teachers use powerpoint now?”

“My college cafeteria was basically the same as a high school one, right?”

“Maybe I can get experience in schools by volunteering with Planned Parenthood to give sex ed lectures! That would be like, double reverse karma to fix past life and future life issues.”

“Ugh, cheerleading is confusing.”

“I think I’ll just re-watch Mean Girls.”

this post is dedicated to and inspired by conversations with the lovely Kassie.

13 thoughts on “In which a homeschooler tries to write contemporary YA

  1. This made me laugh. 🙂

    Why not just write about homeschoolers? “Write what you know” and all that. I don’t really think there’s any YA lit out there about homeschoolers already, is there?

  2. When I was the age of your target audience, I don’t recall reading much that was set in high school. On the other hand, I was an equally out of the loop homeschooler. My first few years of college were too weird. So many references and culture bit that I didn’t get. In other words, I feel your pain.

  3. I wandered over to your blog following the brouhaha about the prom thingy, and I saw your ‘about’ – I’m a lot like you – so I stayed to read a while. This is hilarious! I have three boys I’m homeschooling, and I sure hope they have conversations like this some day.
    Also, ditto what Michael said. I’d sure love for my boys to have some great stories about HSers to read when they are in their teens. Write that story!

    1. I just read your post about your sister and Mean Girls. First, I hope that your sister is recovering and that the adults involved are working together to solve this. Your parents must be beside themselves with worry.
      Second, *write that story*. Some of the most-loved stories I’ve read with my boys are ones with female protagonists. Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, Ygraine the Brave, Inkheart, The Hero and the Crown (although this one has a romantic interest). Little Women (four of our chickens are named for the March girls. Well, Amy turned out to be a rooster, but that’s another story). Sarah Plain and Tall, Annie, Anne of Green Gables. A sweet old story called Fog Magic that I picked up at a library book sale. When they were littler, my boys loved Olivia and Fancy Nancy and Madeline and Little Grey Rabbit.
      I worry about the message that my boys will get about women, women’s sexuality, and their own sexuality. My oldest is nearly 10. He’s interested in romance and the bigger ideas of how adults make relationships and families. I want him to have stories about strong women and enlightened men and healthy relationships which embrace the reality that, in the teen years, there *will* be romance. Romance will out! Please, please write some YA stories about young women and men who are fully fleshed-out characters, interesting and motivated both in relationships and not. Who are independent and strong or who explore insecurity and doubt, but who do it while avoiding the ‘validation’ of slipping into the stupid models of ‘girl needing a boy’ or ‘boy doing manly sporty things’.
      On a side note, I’d love to see homeschoolers as protagonists, and Anglican theology as a background. I spent time in div school and studied early liturgy and feminist liberation theology. We do religious studies of course and my boys get a fantastic education at church school using Godly Play, but out in the real world of homeschooling I find that we have Christianity in common with a lot of people who practice it very differently than we do, and our left-leaning political friends are often atheists. So we have our little enclave of liberal Christianity rooted in social justice. Why not write, like Jo March finally did, about your story?!
      You are a super writer! Write these books! I’ll buy them for my boys.

  4. My girlfriend is a high school theater teacher. She can probably answer all of your questions…..

  5. Absolutely beautiful.

    * Not a victim of homeschooling [ahem] — but I *did* do first grade at a two-room, eight-grade Seventh Day Adventist school. (At five kids, my class was the largest, so one of us had to sit in the second-grade row; there were only three of them.) I was pretty much fully recovered within a year, with the greatest damage being science-related, not theological.**

    ** In retrospect, I wonder if this wasn’t some sort of schismatic derivation, as what I remember as causing the most Sturm und Drang in my UMC-sanctioned soul was the fear my name was already written in the Book of Death — a very non-doctrinaire take on predestination.

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