People connect through stories. Yet during this time of global pandemic and self-isolation, you may feel alone.
We are all in this together and each of us has a story to share, and each of us can find hope and understanding through the stories of others.
This is precisely why we are launching a new book project. (Surprise! We have a book imprint! This was something we were going to announce officially later, but right now this project feels really important.)
Don’t be alone alone; be Alone Together: Stories from a Pandemic. That’s our working title. It could change.
We’re collecting stories from the COVID-19 pandemic. Whether you are on the frontlines at a grocery store, ER, lost your job, or hunkering down at home, you can participate and have your story considered for the book and possibly included on an upcoming episode of our radio program on NPR.
Here’s how it works:
Step 1: Find a partner
No one tells their story alone. If you’d like to share your story, find a friend or family member willing to listen to your story. If you’re not in the same household, connect via phone or virtually. They’ll take notes or record your conversation, and then reflect what you said in an 800-1,200 word first person narrative.
Or if you have a friend, family member, or colleague who has a story you think should be shared, ask them if you can write their story.
All stories are told using The Facing Project model (see full tips and guidelines and a video of a storytelling training below):
- Stories are written in first person (first draft written by listener).
- These are true stories. Don’t make anything up!
- Be careful naming 3rd party organizations or people by name.
- Stories should focus on lived experiences and not simply opinions.
- Best stories take readers into defining moments.
- The storyteller (person sharing story) is in ultimate control over their story and how/if it will be published.
Step 2: Submit your story
Use the form below to submit your first draft by May 15th and our editors will get back to your team by May 22nd with comments and suggested edits via Google Docs.
Step 3: Makes edits and release your story
Approve or reject our team’s edits, or make additional changes by June 1. Once you are happy with the story each of you must fill out a release for the role (storyteller release / writer release) you played on your team.
Guidelines / Tips
(This training was for a different project, but it can still help you with this project.)
Have a chat Skype, Zoom, phone, or some other appropriately-distanced method unless you live in the same household already. Allow ample time for a chat. Try to find a key moment or a few key moments of the storyteller’s life to dive into. Focus on details that take us into these moments.
All stories are written in the first person (“I knew everything was going to change the day…”) from the storyteller’s perspective. Think of this as a monologue. Stories are typically between 800 to 1,200 words in length.
Voice! Voice! Voice! Record the conversation. Writers take good notes. We recommend transcribing the audio from the parts of the conversation you want to focus on. There are transcription services that do this automatically when you upload audio. We recommend Temi.com, which does this in under 5 minutes. The first upload is free at Temi, and 10-cents/minute after that.
Tell true stories. Don’t make anything up. Don’t embellish.
Be careful naming 3rd parties. We prefer not to get sued, so if a story mentions a third party (person, institution, or business) in an unflattering manner, please use discretion whether to name them directly. Our editors will be watching out for this as well. We’re all for raging against the machine, but at times we have to tread carefully so the machine doesn’t chew us up and spit us out.
Stories should focus on lived experiences and what was learned and felt. Stories shouldn’t be rants or manifestos or analysis of current events or a time to grind an axe.
You don’t have to give every single detail – the best stories just drop the listeners right into the story without having to give the listeners every single detail.
Great questions lead to great stories, but the most important thing is to be genuinely interested in the person you are talking with. An ideal scenario is that you ask: “What made you want to share your story with this project?” and then the conversation flows from there. That said, it’s not a bad idea to have a few questions prepared. Story Corps has a great list of questions.
You are collaborators, but the storyteller has ultimate control over the story. The writer should take a shot at the first draft, but after that the storyteller says what stays, goes, or is added. It’s their story!
Once you’ve both reviewed the story submit your story.
We’re here to help. Our team of editors at The Facing Project have polished thousands of stories. We can help get your story to the place where it makes the most impact, spreads understanding and inspires action.
If you have any other questions or concerns, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org