Here is a taste:
The fact that Amtrak's writers’ residencies are not actually journeys to get somewhere, but self-contained round-trips—you don't even have to get off the train at its destination—only enhances their appeal. Creative writing involves a deliberate rejection of practicality: To get into the right mood for writing requires short-circuiting our usual calculations of profit and loss, since there is nothing as gratuitous as a poem or story. Waste, as the poet said, is of the essence of the scheme. On a train, time and place are suspended in the name of a long-term goal, getting from one place to another; take away that goal and you have as close to a zone of pure freedom as you are likely to find anywhere in the twenty-first century.
Again, I think I am an ideal candidate for this program. Not only am I writer with a reputation for binge writing, but I am also 6'8". Most people know that those Amtrak cabins are small and tight, and this may deter from them from taking the train on their next vacation. But if I were able to stay in one of these cabins for several days and even manage to write a chapter or two, it could prove a great PR boon for Amtrak. The pitch could go something like this: "These cabins are not as small as you think. Even a tall guy can be comfortable in one." This could be an entire campaign, similar to Wilt Chamberlain pitching the Volkswagen Rabbit or Shaquille O'Neal selling the Buick LaSabre. I could become for Amtrak what Jared Fogle is for Subway.
Come on Amtrak, how many 6'8' writers do you know who are willing to spend several productive days in an Amtrak cabin? If can do it and be comfortable, anyone can. Think about it and get back to me ASAP.
|John with James Madison|