There’s just something about travel that gets us feeling all of the feelings—especially for writers. Who among us can’t attest to having looked wistfully out the window of the D as it passed over the Manhattan Bridge, or to crying softly in the backseat of a friend’s car while Oasis played us down the interstate. Point is: we always seem to find our most inspired thoughts while on our way from one place to another. So of course, once everyone heard about Jessica Gross being treated to a writer’s residency by Amtrak, we were all hoping for our chance to write the rails. Start packing your suitcase, because Amtrak is now taking applications to do just that.
Dubbed #AmtrakResidency, the program means to “allow creative professionals who are passionate about train travel and writing to work on their craft in an inspiring environment.” Cue the fast cuts between icebergs, deserts and evergreens. The program offers round-trip travel on any route you choose, and first-class treatment: you get your own private sleeper car with all the fixings (desk, bed, big thoughtful window)!
Applications, much like the American countryside, will be taken in on a rolling basis. Amtrak plans to host up to 24 writers for travel between March 17, 2014 and March 31, 2015. Each residency will last only 2-5 days, and no mention is made of actually staying in the cities you’re traveling to.
Beyond that, the program is pretty open, and is 100% free—which means it’s a damn good time to apply. According to Amtrak, the “ideal” candidate will have both strong writing skills combined with strong social media connections, so make sure you’re good at long paragraphs and 140 character bursts.
So, what does this mean? Are we about to experience an upsurge of glorified Joan Didions self-publishing their travelogues at McNally Jackson? Or will this gratis sweepstakes across the American landscape simply make for a few meditative daydreams? Regardless, let’s get Brooklynites all up on this map—you know, like the one where they trace your travels with the dotted red line. Apply while you can, before Amtrak realizes how much money they could make off of this.