Amtrak’s got a grant program for writers.
Didn’t expect that, did you? They pay the way of a writer to ride the rails, with several stipulations: They have to write while on the train. Not sleep, not watch the scenery, not play cards, but write. And they have to Tweet about the experience or put it on Facebook or otherwise publicize it.
Well, I’m never going to win that grant. And for the most part, my fellow Romance Writers of America friends aren’t going to, either. But the idea enchanted us.
So we did it ourselves. This past Saturday and Sunday. It was a blast! Nineteen of us made the round-trip from Austin to Dallas, staying at the Hyatt Saturday night. Our goal was to write going up there, to write coming back home, and to write at the hotel that night. I did all that, and more.
I started my second short romance novel THE CIMARRON BRIDE. I made great progress. I’d decided to go low tech (as in pen and paper) because I wasn’t sure how to handle my heavy laptop on the train. Turned out it was the right decision, even though I now have to type my novel into a file. The train ride was not smooth like a car ride, but more like a carnival ride (not all the time, but enough). Many of the writers moved from the traditional train seats to the observation car where there were tables.
Warning. The toilets are smaller than on airliners. The stairs leading up from the lower to the upper levels of the train are claustrophobic.You have to pay close attention there, and as you’re walking down the aisle, and especially if you go from one car to the next.
Would I do it again? You bet! It’s a hell of a lot safer than driving. And a lot more fun. Maybe even cheaper.
Plus I wrote the beginning of my novel that way.
And I didn’t even mention what it’s like to have another train pass about two inches from your window, going the other way, and all you see of it is a shape rushing by. Or the tunnel of trees the train glides through out there in the farm and ranch lands. Or what it’s like passing through people’s backyards, and mainly through the poorer sections of big cities. Or that our train ran its horn most of the trip, and sometimes people waved at us. Or that the passengers often lurched down the aisle as if they were drunk and holding onto the seats to remain upright.
To my utter surprise, I loved it. The train ride worked really well to concentrate my attention on the book.
WHAT I’VE READ THIS WEEK: NOS4A2 by Joe Hill.
Check out my mystery novel TALKING TO THE DEAD GUYS http://amzn.com/B0094FBA8S.