Friday, February 21, 2014


Such a brilliant Twitter scheme. And totally unplanned. No committees met. No experts were consulted. No focus groups full of starving writers pretending to be something else for the fifty bucks were harmed in this advertising campaign. In fact, being a writer for once didn't involve starving. Amtrak sleepers come with three meals a day (but you have to tip).

Did you read about it? The Amtrak Writers Residency that spontaneously came into being? You can follow the story here, or you can read a summary or the original article from the first writer to reside.

Well, officially. Writers have been writing on trains and ships since they invented trains and ships. Many of us have created entire books out these journeys. How many has Paul Theroux written?

So what's different this time?

Twitter. (Duh.) 

It gave me what I think is another great idea. You know how people pay lots of money to get away from it all and be left alone to write? Well, someone should put a bunch of writers on a freighter around the world. The only time you'd get phone or internet is in port, and there would be huge waits in between. You'd be forced to work.*

But freighters aren't cheap and no one has announced any residencies.

Am I going to apply for the Amtrak Writers Residency? Oh, sure. I love Amtrak's sleeper cars and the Doppler Effect as you pass small towns. But it looks to me like everyone who has ever written so much as a postcard has thrown their hat in the ring, and the social media department at Amtrak has a lot of work ahead of them.

Plus, I'm not sure it's not somehow cheating if you've done it before. But there was no Twitter in January of 2001, so maybe it doesn't count.

*Well, sort of. Having nothing else to do didn't stop me from finding all kinds of exciting ways to procrastinate on my freighter voyages. 

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