Happy Anniversary to Brave Writer!!
(Discount does not apply to online classes)
Plus here’s a little history of Brave Writer! This was posted New Year’s Eve on Facebook:
I’m feeling sentimental this afternoon.
It’s the last day of 2014. 15 years ago today, I completed the working draft of The Writer’s Jungle and was set to launch a little company I called “The Writing Compass” in January 2000. I never liked the name of the company but I was determined to start and couldn’t keep sitting around waiting for the “right name” to reveal itself. I have notebook pages filled with possibilities. None right. I gave in. The Writing Compass it would be.
My first “Kidswrite Basic” class began the first Monday of January with full enrollment (25 moms), the last one registering at midnight before class began (that enrollment happened to be the extraordinary Rachel Boyer, who went on to become a Brave Writer instructor for 5 years!). How fortuitous that she found me! We bonded and she learned to teach the way I taught (not much of a stretch for her).
That first class in January 2000 lasted 8 weeks (phew!) and was run exclusively through an email list. (You think forums can be confusing!) Tuition? $25.00 per family! Ha ha. I think my hourly might have been about $2.00 an hour by the time it was over. I was a happy, exhausted dishrag at the end of that first class, burning the candle at both ends, learning as much as my families. I still have most of the emails.
A few notable students came through the first session:
- Anne Somanas (whose essays are the models in Help for High School)
- Gabrielle Linnell (whose “Adventuring Maid” story in The Writer’s Jungle is the first time she was published–age 8; she’s gone on to be quite the writer, starting her own online magazine for teens, featured in Chicken Soup for the Soul’s Extraordinary Teens, and interviewed by Writer’s Digest as a promising up and coming young writer!)
- Logan, famous for his hilarious and honest freewrites that I share at every convention and included in The Writer’s Jungle.
- Bennett Horton, my 16 year old student who *would not write* and started from scratch (Jot It Down!) and went on to get As in freshman composition in college just two years later (I have his thank you note still!). Today he is married, a father of two girls, and is making his way up the corporate ladder quite successfully. So reassuring to see!
I had a blast with these families, and loved my work! Suddenly speaking engagements popped up! The attached photo is of me at the CHEO convention in Columbus Ohio, June 2000—my first big speaking gig, where we rolled out The Writer’s Jungle, my only product. Cindy Clark, who works for Brave Writer today, helped me assemble the first volumes in my living room along with Bennett’s mother, Paula Horton (who also works intermittently for Brave Writer now). Sold every one I brought with me! Blew me away. Apparently it was something I said.
Mid-workshop while speaking, I heard myself saying these words, “We want free writers! We want brave writers!” and as the words escaped my lips, my brain thought, “Crap! That’s it! That’s the name of my company: Brave Writer!”
Naturally “writingcompass.com” was emblazoned across the vinyl cover of The Writer’s Jungle. Such a dilemma! My first exposure to the world of homeschoolers and I was already going to make a huge change in identity. I went straight home and bought the URL: bravewriter.com. Jon set up a redirect on the original site and I never looked back.
15 years in Internet time is an eternity. When I go to my entrepreneurial social media gatherings, I am always the oldest business by several years, built on social media long before it was called by that name. Brave Writer has grown by word of mouth. I didn’t want it to grow too quickly. I wanted to homeschool my kids and not miss soccer matches and lacrosse games.
In those years of slow growth, I learned a lot about writing, home education, parenting, and business. I went to graduate school. I got a divorce. I went on college visits. I became an adjunct professor. I value it all, even the life-shattering, life-rearranging moments.
Today, Brave Writer is strong and growing by leaps and bounds. My family is well—including Jon, without whom I could never have launched a company in 2000. He designed my first website and laid out The Writer’s Jungle and Help for High School. His freshman composition teaching career in college gave me countless resources that helped form what I teach and write. I’m grateful to him. We have a good relationship today.
Thank you for being a part of the Brave Writer community and journey:
for all your good ideas
for finding typos in my products that I miss
for sharing your amazing children with me and my staff
for your patience when my product roll outs get delayed
for your passion for your children
for learning how to be coaches and allies to your children (not everyone wants that job—but I’m so glad you do!)
for observing copyright (homeschool parents are the most ethical consumers and I don’t take that for granted!)
for helping each other and showing one another kindness and consideration
and for sending me uplifting emails that help me keep going.
I love this community and opportunity to put all of my skills and heart into a venture that I believe in. Without you, Brave Writer quite literally wouldn’t exist.
Much much love to you all and your dear families on this, the last day of 2014. Tomorrow, we start 2015 and January offers you a special deal for Brave Writer as my thank you for your years of loyalty! (Sneak peek on the home page of the site, if you want to see it.)
May you each reflect on the past year(s) and see how far you’ve come, and trust you will get where you need to go.
Happy New Year! /blows horn!/ /tosses confetti/