Writers all over the U.S. are excited that Amtrak is offering people the opportunity to be a writer in residence. Jessica Gross was the first writer in residence and she rode and wrote from New York to Chicago and back again. What a great 39-hour adventure! I love the idea of getting on the train and going head-down into a project with the gentle rumbling of the train beneath you and the world zipping by out the window.
If I was chosen to do this, I think I’d want to travel from Tucson to New Orleans and back again. It would be a little over 70 hours total on the train. Because it’s such a long trip, I think I’d like to stay in New Orleans for a day or two to recharge my batteries, evaluate where I am in my writing process, and strategize what I wanted to crank out on the return trip. I’ve never been to New Orleans, so I’d want to find a place to take a handstand picture and maybe visit Storyland or Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop – the oldest bar in the U.S. I don’t drink but it would be fun to visit as I’m sure plenty of other writers have spent many hours there to rest and recharge while working on a project.
I’ve been a writer and a blogger for over four years and I love it. Every so often I find a project that I just can’t work on at home – I’m too easily distracted by chores or anything that’s not my writing. Sometimes when that happens, I banish myself from the house until my work gets done. I’ll go to a coffee shop or a library with the expectation that I’m there to work and I can’t leave until my work gets done. I turn off the internet and put my phone where I can’t see it or hear it and get to work. That’s usually enough to force me to put pen to paper or fingers to the keyboard and crank out what I need to get done – usually faster than I anticipated.
I’ve been toying with doing some memoir work for years. I have a basic outline of what I’d want to include and the format for each chapter but it’s been a challenge to find the time and creative space to sit down and let the ideas flow. I would need big blocks of time to sit write without distractions, where I can sit in quiet contemplation, where I could lock into my zone and let my fingers fly over my keyboard. I’d love to be an Amtrak writer in residence to work on this project.
So Amtrak, if you’re serious about offering other people the chance to be a writer in residence, I hope you’ll pick me.