Feeling creative? Need a little inspiration to find just the right words? The Amtrak Residency for writers may be the perfect solution.
#AmtrakResidency will allow for up to 24 writers to take long-distance trains to work on their projects. Each writer’s round-trip journey will include accommodations on board a sleeper car equipped with a bed, a desk and outlets.
Just think, you take a long distance train ride, check out the scenery and sounds of the rails while you soak up some inspiration. Once properly inspired, you put it into words.
The first writer who made the test run for the project was Jessica Gross of Manhattan, who had her piece Writing The Lake Shore Limited 🙂 (Great title, eh?) published in February in the Paris Review. She made the trip from New York to Chicago and then turned around and rode the train right back to New York, so you know she passed by the museum here in North East, on both trips.
Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis and reviewed by a panel. Up to 24 writers will be selected for the program starting March 17, 2014 through March 31, 2015. A passion for writing and an aspiration to travel with Amtrak for inspiration are the sole criteria for selection. Both emerging and established writers will be considered.
If the gentle rock and sway of riding the rails while listening to the sounds of the train in the background would stimulate those creative juices, you can either buy yourself a ticket for one of Amtrak’s long train trips or, if you’re feeling lucky, head on over to the Amtrak site and fill out an application. Pretty cool!
UPDATE: Since writing this, I see there has been some criticism of this program. Some writers have taken issue for a variety of reasons, but some say Amtrak shouldn’t be wasting money on the program, since they’re losing money already.
Is giving a total of 24 writers the chance to write about the experience of a long train trip a waste of money? Perhaps, if paying passengers were bumped to give them the ticket, but if the train was already scheduled and an otherwise empty seat earning no money was given to a writer for free, then no money was lost and perhaps the positive press will generate more paying passengers in the future. Was a passenger bumped? Worth checking, but even in that case, the “cost” might be considered an advertising expense. It doesn’t seem Amtrak is planning on changing to a free ride model so this might be an economic plus in the long run. Interesting.