Peace Corps Writers
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Do you have something for theFortitude Anthology?
What I’m seeking is well-plotted, well-crafted “story stories”— tales that draw the reader into the events being described; tales with specific, detailed vignettes that “show” — rather than simply tell — stories with a beginning, middle, and an end. The story line that emerges from a “Fortitude” story is generally: individual experiences difficulty or challenge; individual makes persistent (and often varied) efforts to deal with difficulty, exhibiting strength, courage, or determination; individual resolves difficult situation or grows or meets challenge in some other positive way.
     I am looking for stories with a sense of immediacy, and for that reason, most of the stories in the collection will be written in the first person — although this is not a requirement. For instance, there will also be room in the book for some stories in the style of “Kitchen Table Wisdom”— e.g., the author’s reminiscences in the story “Ordinary Hero” about her short, paunchy, balding war-hero uncle who taught her that courage does not mean being unafraid.
     I am looking for both serious and lighthearted pieces. On the lighthearted side, for instance, I’ve got one man’s memories of the devotion, single-mindedness, and inventiveness with which his father approached rousing his children from bed at 5:30 in the morning, year after year. On the more serious side, I’ve got a woman’s account of her rape and eleven-year recovery process, including a transformational experience in a self-defense course. Another example: A backpacker loses his way in the wilderness, struggles to survive, and is about to give up when the memory of his daughter inspires him to persevere. He finds a way to survive yet another day, and a search party discovers and rescues him.
     In writing about fortitude, it is essential to show not only WHAT was overcome, but HOW. For instance, if the story is your own, you must show yourself finding ways to persevere, making repeated efforts or trying one thing and then another — e.g., talking yourself through frustration and disappointment, experiencing failure but finding the determination not to quit, turning to others for support and/or information, finding outlets for your emotions, remembering inspiring role models, praying, etc. The sustained fortitude struggle or effort is at the heart of a fortitude story.
     Since fortitude may involve much effort in different situations over time, the trick is finding a way to capsulize the fortitude experience in a few pages without making it general and abstract. In order to keep the story alive, you must find some specific incidents that symbolize the whole and flesh those out with the kind of rich detail that brings them alive for the reader.

    Malinda P. Teel
    399 Pavillion Street
    Atlanta, Georgia 30315
    404.627.4722; fax-0780
    e-mail: mpteel@juno.com

The Peace Corps Collection at the Kennedy Library is always looking for the following types of documents that record the experiences of Peace Corps Volunteers: letters, diaries, journals, memoirs, manuscripts, photographs, slides, films, videotapes, audiotapes, pamphlets, news clips and drawings. If you are interested in donating such materials and would like information on how it is done, write to:

    The Peace Corps Collection
    John F. Kennedy Library
    Columbia Point
    Boston MA 02125

Are you looking for a publisher for your Peace Corps book? You might want to look at the list of small publishing houses that have published books by Returned Peace Corps Volunteers. Perhaps they will be interested in your manuscript. We have a listing at Smaller Publishers.

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