There are a few things I’d like to do while I’m out here in The Burg. I have my eyes on a place I want to visit once the weather starts to agree with normal people, and there’s another location that I think I could visit under the guise of collecting resource material for a story. (Hint: it would have something to do with space.) But now something else has appeared on my radar, and for the first time in a long while I’m excited by the possibly that the event in question could be one of the best things I’ve ever done.
I’m talking about Riding the Residency.
Okay, so what am I taking about? It appears that Amtrak, the organization in this country that handles rail travel, has given to residencies to writers to ride the rails. One writer has already taken the New York City to Chicago run, and another is setting up for a cross-country sprint in mid-May to travel from New York City to Portland, Oregon. And by residency I mean they’re letting them ride for free so they can work on their writing and talk about the experience. The woman who did the NYC to Chiberia (as we were calling the city during the January polar vortex attack) run spent fifty-five hours relaxing and writing and generally having a good time, and who isn’t about a good time when they’re writing?
So, Amtrak, allow me to explain why putting me on a residency run would be a great idea:
1. I love riding trains. I’ve commuted by train for years. I’ve ridden from Chicago to Florida by train. I’ve taken them to work. I’ve even ran the European network and spent a few hours on the French TGV, which I consider one of the best experiences ever, and one of the reasons I feel we need high speed rail in the U.S. like yesterday. I like other people doing my driving while I sit back and enjoy the view, so a long trip that involves getting some writing done in the process is a big win for me.
2. I am Ms. Social Media. You want Tweets of the trip? How about I up that ante and start posting my adventure to Facebook with pictures? How about getting two or three blog posts out of the adventure, which will go out world wide in case you’re interested. I could even put this adventure together in an ebook and offer it up for free on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords.
3. I have friends in a lot of different cities, and many of them are creative as well. I know an independent film writer/director down in the Big Easy; maybe she could take a return trip with me and work on a screenplay? I have a writer friend in New York City who would like to run to Atlanta; we could do a run together and Chatty Cathy the adventure–or kill each other along the way, which would also be entertaining. I’ve friends in Seattle and Portland who I could meet, and on the way to both those locations I could stop in Denver and make fun of the Hell Pony who apparently couldn’t bring any mojo to their local sports teams. I could visit my Magical Girl Katie in Minneapolis and I could get pictures of my Twilight Sparkle plush kissing one of her mecha models.
4. I am a writer. Okay, so I’m not a big-time Stephen King-style writer who could probably buy a train for this sort of thing, but I have sold one story and self published two more, and I’ve always working and writing and trying to get my work out there. That means I’m just like Rick Grimes in that I have stuff I’m working on–you know, things. During a long trip I could probably do a great edit on a novel and prep it for publication. Or start on Act Two of my current work in process. Or write something completely new during the trip. I’m open, you know?
It’s simple, really: I need a seat, a place to put my computer and a plug for power, and a wifi connection to allow me access to the Internet, and I’m ready to roll outta Harrisburg for points unknown. Oh, and I live within walking distance of the station, so I just throw my stuff in an overnight bag, get my computer into my backpack, and ten minutes later I’m ready to pick up my tickets.
I’ll be in touch.