Notes on a Sunday

My brain is swirling with thoughts about writing this morning. I’ve had a lot of email lately from Brave Writer fans and new-to-Brave Writer moms asking me questions about how and why we do what we do in Brave Writer. So in no particular order, here are my thoughts on a Sunday morning.

Price: Some moms think Brave Writer courses and materials are a bargain. Others can’t understand how we charge so much for The Writer’s Jungle or for a digital download. I don’t want to go into a long apologetic about price here, but a few thoughts occurred to me to share because I think it helps people to understand Brave Writer and me better. The materials I create for Brave Writer are entirely original, created and written by me, or by someone I trust who I’ve specifically hired to write for Brave Writer. I don’t resell books by anyone else, I don’t warehouse curricula. Brave Writer materials are only available through Brave Writer and one other reseller at this time. Also, we do virtually no advertising. What that means is that we are self-published and our customer base is almost entirely word of mouth. We aren’t a big curricula company or book reseller.

It’s entirely possible to learn how to write without using our resources. I’ve listed in many places the books I use to help me write, the books I’ve turned to that enhance what I teach. I’ve also shared extensively the principles of writing on this blog, on my website, in the public forums and through email lists. I spend enormous amounts of time reading about writing, teaching writing, studying writing, and writing for publication every week of every month of every year. This is what I do in that so-called “free” time people think mothers have (which you all know we don’t :)). I stay current with trends in writing, in composition, in academic writing, in creative writing, in craft. I take what I read and study and learn, what I use and find beneficial in the writing I do, what I find valuable in teaching others, and translate all that input into user friendly materials specifically designed for homeschooling mothers. I invest the time you don’t have to create products that make it easy for you to teach writing.

The Brave Writer community, compared to the size of the homeschooling market, is tiny. I like it that way. It helps me respond to your emails in as timely a manner as I can (if you don’t hear back from me in a week, always email again because sometimes emails slip through the cracks). It means I can continue to teach classes and not just administrate a business. It means I can interact on this blog and the public forums. I’m convinced that no materials teach writing like human contact with a writer. My products are my attempt to reach out through cyberspace to hold your hand or to respond to your questions or to show you a new window where you only saw a wall. They are backed up with a promise of support.

Other books and materials about writing end on the last page. There’s no chance to interact with the author or to get additional support from a community if you need it. Brave Writer wants to be different in that way. To offer that level of support, we determined prices that make it feasible for me (and for Jon) to be working for you all the time. We offer a variety of products at different price levels (and even courses that are shorter and longer, cheaper and more expensive) to accommodate a variety of budgets and lifestyles. If you’re on a tight budget and don’t know where to start, I suggest picking up the free copy of the Arrow on our public forums. I also suggest searching Scratch Pad (our public forums) and typing in the word “Jabberwocky.” You’ll find a free Scratch Pad writing course I taught in 2005 that might give you some ideas of how the courses and philosophy work. And you can always purchase one copy of The Writer’s Jungle and share it back and forth between two friends. I homeschool. I understand how this works.
And remember: The Writer’s Jungle comes with a money-back guarantee if returned within eight weeks of purchase.

Questions: The foundation of all good writing is asking good questions. As I wrote the Arrow, Boomerang and Slingshot issues for July (about myths and legends, book reporting and textual analysis), I became aware of how often I listed questions for the reader to answer. The best way to grow in writing is to ask the text questions. If that is not your child’s habit, you’ll want to help him or her learn how to do it. The interrogative process is the foundation for quality writing. Narrating has its place, but learning how to dig more deeply into novels, myths, movies, poetry, and history is what translates reading into learning. As your kids get older, the questions become more probing. I just loved writing these issues and look forward to hearing from you about how they suit your families.

Painting: Summer means painting in the Bogart household. Painting means books on CD or songs from much-loved musicals blaring through the house. If you’ve got a painting project ahead of you, I strongly suggest a trip to the library first. Use it as a chance to add a bit of culture to your summer home maintenance projects.

Museums: They have air conditioning. Therefore they make a great destination during these hot months. If you make viewing art a natural part of your life (not just a school habit), you’ll find that your children come to love it for its own sake (rather than cordoning it off to the “school” part of their brains). We’re heading to Chicago late next week and museums are high on our list of desired activities (and a long bike ride by the lake shore too, I imagine).

Tomorrow: We’ll announce the fall course schedule, the book lists for the language arts subscription programs, registration details for both and some exciting news for fall. Stay tuned!

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