All Aboard!…

…well…not allaboard. Many are called, some will enter, and a few will be chosen. Am I talking about heaven? No. I’m talking about Amtrak. We all know what Amtrak is, but how many of us have ever taken a trip by passenger train? Not me; the closest I’ve ever gotten to a trip by train have been rides around the parks on the choo-choos at the Columbus Zoo and Hershey Park. Amtrak, however, is sponsoring an “Amtrak Residency for Writers,” believe it or not. It is happening right now; you can apply here until March 31, 2014. The application includes the submission of a writing sample which will give you the opportunity to strut your creative stuff as well. Amtrak representatives will start selecting winners on March 17 and keep doing so through March 31. Amtrak will choose twenty-four winners. The residency will be for six months…I’m kidding about the duration: if you are one of the very lucky winners, the terms of  the residency will be two to five days, and it appears that Amtrak will select your destination. You will be provided with a private sleeper car with a bed, a desk and a window. Gamblers need not apply (again, just kidding. I can’t resist. Hope you’re not, um, keeping track.). I do regret to note, however, that Brother Basil Sands is not eligible; please read the contest rules carefully to see why.
This contest looks as if it would be just the berries if you are looking to jump start your next (or even your current) writing project via exposure to inspiring scenery in an environment removed from your normal distractions of daily living. I have submitted an application, and while I would love to be one of the winners, I’d like to see at least one of you, our loyal and wonderful visitors to The Kill Zone, listed as a winner as well. Should you be selected, all I ask in return for alerting you to this wonderful possibility is that 1) you dedicate your completed novel to me and 2) you insist upon a clause in your ancillary rights agreement that I am to be given a featured role in the film version of your work. That’s all. Wink wink.
Good luck. And if one of you should be a winner, please let us know. For now, however, please tell us: if you are selected as one of the winners, where would you like to go? And how would you schedule your daily writing activity?


17 thoughts on “All Aboard!…

  1. Rats.

    If I had an American address, say a winter home in California, I could then be a legal resident of the United States but still be a Canadian citizen, would I not?

    I would love to do this. Double rats.

    • Amanda, interestingly enough each state has their own definition of how to qualify for “residency” and I’m not sure what California’s would be. Here is an idea: contact CNI or CP and suggest that they run a similar contest, with you, of course, being one of the residency authors since you suggested it.

      I’ve had a romanticized impression of CP since hearing “Canadian Railroad Trilogy” by Gordon Lightfoot some forty-seven years ago. It’s still a great, great song.

    • Joe, we’re having problems with CN up here in the North at the moment. I don’t think they’d be interested. Not enough people, never mind writers.

      The Trilogy is a great song, one of many by Mr. Lightfoot but my favourite train song is by Stompin’ Tom, Algoma Central 69, because it mentions my hometown.

      “She’s on a beer drinking spree, down in Sault Ste. Marie…”

    • I had never heard of Stompin’ Tom Connors, Amanda. I just pulled him up on Spotify and he sounds just a bit like Willie Nelson. It appears as if he and I plowed some of the same fields at some point in our respective pasts.

  2. This is a great idea. I would go the long way: Atlanta to D.C. and head west through Chicago to the Pacific. It’s not all that expensive even if you don’t win, but still a great idea.

  3. Does it go through the Canadian Rockies? 🙂 I took that trip once — Calgary to Vancouver — and it was one of the best vacations of my life. But there’s no way you could get any writing done…the ride and view is too spectacular.

  4. Kris…I was kind of thinking the same thing about this contest, wondering if I would zone out on the scenery and never get anything else done. But don’t tell anybody.

  5. Oh man! Just my bad luck.I’ve taken trains across Alaska, at least part of Alaska, Anchorage to Seward, 4 hours each way.Our longest train ride is Anchorage to Fairbanks, about 10 hours. So no sleeper cars here.

    It would be interesting though. Maybe if I put my folks address in Ohio on the entry.

  6. I remember all sorts of train trips from when I was a little kid. I went from San Francisco to Chicago in 1966. Two sailors were buying drinks in the club car the entire route. That’s all I remember.

    I took Amtrak from L.A. to Flagstaff. Then caught a steam train to the Grand Canyon. This was at Christmastime. Absolute magic. Easy to snooze on the train.

    Do you have to submit your written “work” to the conductor at the end of the trip?

    Hmmm. I could revive “Ghost Train” for this one. Amtrak would hate that story, though. The original title was “Psycho Killer Train Massacre,” but I toned it down.

    • Jim, I’m not sure how that works with respect to the fruits of your labors at the end of your journey. Whatever it would be would be worth it, however, at least for me. Thanks for sharing your train travel memories.

  7. I’ve been on those trains, Basil. We got on the first run of the season out to Talkeetna, where the skeeters are bigger than dogs. The train crew in the snackbar were new and couldn’t figure out how to open the cash box. Subsequently, they just gave everything away. And that’s just another reason why we love Alaska and all the good folks hiding out up there.

Comments are closed.