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Amtrak opens writer residency program


Any writer who enjoys the open road and the steady hum of a train traveling down its tracks can apply for the #AmtrakResidency program through Twitter, according to PBS on February 24. Many writers find creativity in travel but are often bogged down by the actual driving aspect because it’s the cheapest way to travel and see the world up close.

In a world of technology writers will find themselves recording their voice instead of the method they prefer. Pen and paper or the clicking of the keyboard. Train travel allows for a lower cost alternative while providing the scenic view the creative soul craves. It’s been said that “cramped train cars with extra room for creativity.”

Alexander Chee, author of “Edinburgh” and “The Queen of the Night” stated in a recent interview with Pen America that his favorite place to write was a train. This is the comment that started it all.

“I still like a train best for this kind of thing. I wish Amtrak had residencies for writers. And after trains, libraries at night. Especially empty ones.”

Chee’s statement sparked an idea in Zach Seward and Jessica Gross, each asking Amtrak what it would take to get the idea into a reality. Seward, editor of Quartz and Gross, writer for New York Times magazine were sent on a test run free of charge from Amtrak. Amtrak sent to the two on a round trip train ride from New York City to Chicago.

Gross, who is also a writer for the Paris Review published a piece documenting her travel. Now Amtrak is working towards turning this one-time residency into an established program, hoping to send writers on free trips all across the country.

To enter for your chance to obtain an Amtrak train residency tweet them @Amtrak with the hashtag #AmtrakResidency and tell them in 140 characters or less why they should pick you.

UPDATE: Writers can now apply via the Amtrak website.

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More articles by Chrystal Mahan. Follow her writing on Self Employed Writer.

©Chrystal Mahan. All Rights Reserved. No part of this article may be reproduced without prior permissions from the author. Partial reposting is permitted with a link back to the original article.

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