What began life as a wishful what-if exchange on Twitter has now grown into a full-blown authors’ program from one of the US’s dominant railway companies, Amtrak. When two writers exchanged a few tweets about the joy they could derive from riding a passenger train and writing away the miles, Amtrak jumped in and made it a reality, at least for the one tweeting.
Now, more details have come out about the potential for Amtrak to offer a train writing program to more authors. According to Ben Cosman for TheWire:
“Julia Quinn, Amtrak’s Director of Social Media, did an AMA (Ask Me Anything) on Reddit today to discuss the company’s writer’s residency program. According to Quinn, Amtrak is still “formalizing” the official program, but she did offer a few new details.
- An online application process will go online some time in the next few days.
- Amtrak hopes to begin the official program this spring.
- Amtrak will use a panel comprised of individuals from Amtrak and the literary community to review resident applications.
- Applications will be evaluated on a rolling basis.
- Writers’ residencies will last 2-5 days, according to Quinn.
- Amtrak wants residents on each of its 15 long-distance routes.”
While Amtrak hasn’t made it clear what the actual definition of a writer would be for this type of residency program, even more details are expected in the near future. This type of program, even if no longer offered for free but rather at a significant discount, stands to not only be a tremendous PR move for the company, but can also fill up some of the empty seats on various routes, especially if authors are able to be as flexible in their travel dates as they are in their writing schedules.