Tag Archives: writing a book

First draft of the Americorps book chapter outline

Okay, kiddies. I’m actually plunging into the writing process of the book (well, more like dipping my toe, actually) and have completed a first run at a chapter outline for the book.

[For those that don’t know, one of the things I would like to do is use my experiences in Americorps (and yours, as well) to write a book for those who are thinking about going into Americorps – telling them what it’s like, what they can expect, what they can’t expect and so on.]

I’m going to include my first chapter outline draft below. If anyone’s reading this and would like to offer feedback on what I have so far, please do. The more input, the merrier. You can comment here or send me an email to the address in the sidebar (scroll down to the bottom).

Note that the outline doesn’t scan quite right vis-a-vis numbering and lettering, because of the ordered list coding for this template, so I had to mix bullets and numbers to make sense.

Americorps Book Chapter Outline

Blurb (from blog) [Editor’s note: This is just pasted in here for potential use in the book’s marketing copy.]

You will hate Americorps. You will love Americorps. You will dread getting out of bed, and you will wish you didn’t have to go home. It will be the worst decision you ever made and the best thing you’ve ever done. You will count off days like a felon marking time and you will miss it terribly when you’re done. Sometimes, several of these things will happen in the same day. Welcome to a life spent in service to the greater good: It’s the Vomit Comet of right action, complete with breathtaking climbs, stomach-dropping falls, heady views and jewel-like moments of perfect, weightless exhilaration and clarity that make it all worthwhile.

  1. Introduction
    • About Americorps
    • History of Americorps
    • My experiences with Americorps
  2. Chapter 1: Why Americorps
    • Giving back/Community building
    • Experience/Training
    • Educational Award
    • Networking
  3. Chapter 2: What To Know Before You Go
    • Income and work restrictions
    • Using social services
    • Benefits and shortfalls (health insurance, etc)
    • Political and religious restrictions
    • Dead trees – Americorps and paperwork
    • Acting like a professional
    • Keeping track of trainings/etc
    • Culture shock – personal (dealing with the Americorps vow of poverty, being out of school and in the trenches) and program-related (dealing with other team members, people you’re helping, program members, etc)
    • Building a team from scratch
  4. Chapter 3: Killing the Buddha (ditching the “Make-It-Better Fairy” mindset)
    • Starting over every year (you can’t save the world in a year – you’ll be spending the first 4 months just figuring out how to work the equipment)
    • Ungrateful wretches (dealing with the reality that saving the world is not always appreciated by the saved, and is sometimes outright ignored, disparaged, road-blocked, resisted and condemned by same) [Editor’s note: yes, the title of this bullet point is tongue in cheek]
    • Dealing with doubt – the long, dark night of the soul (reference Mother Teresa letters)
    • Ego vs work – being responsible for the work, not the results (i.e. take pride in doing well those aspects of the work you can control, but don’t hang your personal sense of accomplishment on the qualities of the final results, over which you have no influence; handing out food boxes is a worthy activity, even if overall hunger rates don’t decrease in your service year)
    • Honoring those you serve – Seeing beyond surface labels (seeing the Buddha within the beggar/Christ within the junkie); respecting their humanity even if you can’t respect their choices; a Buddhist monk begging offers townspeople the chance for compassion and generosity, just as those you serve give you the chance to practice the same, so be sure to say “thank you.”
  5. Chapter 4: A Bureaucracy of Angels (working in a non-profit)
    • Budgets, Bureaucracies and Blowhards – the non-profit and the community (dealing with NIBMY’s, laws, politics, community issues, funding issues, personality problems, actions restricted and required by the org’s charter/status and so on.)
    • Saving the world is like working in a coalmine – a lot of dirty work no one else wants to do, for little pay and less appreciation. OTOH, you light up the world. Yay!
    • Finding your place – sometimes Americorps members are welcome, well-fitted parts in a well-oiled machine of public services, sometimes they are disrespected scutwork interns caught in the middle of internecine political battles, budget shortfalls and turf wars.
  6. Chapter 5: Getting Started
    • Branches of Americorps
      1. NCCC
      2. Americorps National
      3. Americorps State
      4. Americorps Vista
      5. Professional Corps
      6. Senior Corps
      7. Others
    • Researching Americorps Programs
    • Application Process
  7. Chapter 6: A Year of Service
    • Orientation
    • Placement
    • Launch
    • Day in the life (chapter of stories from alums)
    • Service Projects and Days of Service
    • Trainings, retreats and summits – Americorps events
    • Graduation
    • Breaking up is hard to do
    • Should I stay or should I go – pros and cons of dropping out of your term of service, what to expect, pro-rated benefits, paperwork
  8. Chapter 7: A Lifetime of Service
    • Americorps Alums
    • Continuing your work