When you heard about Amtrak's new residency for writers, did you jump up and down with glee? I did. My earliest memory is of my father playing Johnny Cash on the stereo and carrying me around to get me to sleep. I still know all the words to "Folsom Prison Blues." I love trains. I love traveling. I love writing. This is all three.
I applied, of course. But then it crossed my mind...I bet LOTS of people are applying for that residency, because it is an inherently cool idea, and writers are inherently cool people. They might not pick me.
And yet...I could ride from here to New Orleans and back for about $150, an eleven-hour trip each way. Enough time to write a short story, if I put my mind to it, even with some gazing out the window and having dinner in the diner. (Nothing could be finer!)
So, that's the plan. One train trip. One short story. Some field reports, of course, in the way of Tweeting, but mostly...fiction on the train.
I have some short stories I'm currently working on: "The Rose Run Round the Brier" asks 'why did Barbry Allen have to die?' "Malefactor" is a version of Faust set in 1989 Atlanta. "Metamorphology" is about a secretary who turns into a werewolf and starts eating her way up the corporate ladder. "The Baby Clinic" is set in a future where genetic manipulation of humans isn't just possible, it's considered a parental duty, and "family values" takes on a whole new meaning. Any one of these would be a good project to finish, or I might start a whole new one, inspired by the rhythm of the train and the landscape floating by.
Risks and challenges
I am a published writer who teaches college for my day job; the biggest challenge I have is taking time away from the rest of my life to write. This is why a residency is ideal. And there's something about the sense of obligation that a crowdfunded project entails that will put me on the spot in a good way; I'll spend my time writing rather than dithering around working on one non-writing project or another, because I know people will be watching. I plan to take this trip after the academic year is over, so that I won't have other obligations to distract me.
I write poetry, fiction, and creative non-fiction, but for this project I want to focus on fiction. My work appears both online and in print in various places: Magpie Magazine, Moon Milk Review (now the Dr. T.J. Eckleburg Review), Jabberwocky 3 and 5, Datura, The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, Right Hand Pointing, Luna Station Quarterly. I have one novel in second draft and another in first draft; those are ongoing, but for this project I wanted something that could be completed in the time frame available. With your help, it will be :)Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)