There is perhaps no other idea so entrancing to the writerly-mind than setting out to write during a cross-country trip. And there’s no smoother way to write about the amber waves of grain rolling endlessly past than on a train, says anyone who has written on both a train and in a car. So it’s not surprising that Amtrak’s plan to give free, roundtrip rides to writers (riders and writers!) is turning out to be a popular idea.
After one writer asked for — and received — a first test-run residency, Amtrak says it’ll start planning more writers’ residencies as a long-term program, reports Wired.com.
The NYC-based writer tweeted her agreement with another writer who’d written about how writing on trains is just the straight-up best and how he wished Amtrak had residencies for writers, and Amtrak was actually listening.
Off she went on a roundtrip journey to California from NYC, via the Lake Shore Limited, writing the entire trip. And it was all free, she says, all she had to do was write a few tweets on the trip and do an interview for the Amtrak blog.
She detailed her trip in The Paris Review: “I’m only here for the journey. Soon after I get to Chicago, I’ll board a train and come right back to New York: thirty-nine hours in transit—forty-four, with delays. And I’m here to write.”
And because everyone, especially writers, would like a free trip just to write (excluding yours truly and the rest of the Consumerist crew, because we cannot and do not accept freebies), Amtrak says this thing is really going to happen. “Overwhelming demand” is the familiar phrase in these kinds of situations.
For now there’s no actual way to apply, beyond contacting the company on social media, but Amtrak says the goal is to “engage with writers several times a month” eventually.
Check out the Wired.com article for an interview with Amtrak’s social media director about the plan, and start practicing your “watch how effortlessly I can walk down the aisle without bumping anyone’s chairs because I am awesome at this, everyone” skills. And don’t try to tell me you didn’t play that mental game as a kid. Or maybe I am just a weirdo.