The Amtrak Residency is currently suspended, but that hasn’t stopped poet Julia Shipley and two colleagues from creating a Train Travel Residency of their own.
Shipley is a non-fiction writer, journalist and poet who lives in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom. This past winter she and two colleagues created their own Train Travel Residency.
They boarded Amtrak’s Southbound Vermonter in Waterbury at ten in the morning and wrote for the three-hour journey to Brattleboro. On their walk up Main Street to Brooks Memorial Library, the three poets stopped for lunch. Once at the library, they held a planned workshop, where they read and gave comments on one another’s work. Shortly before five, they retraced their steps to the station and wrote for the three-hour trip home.
The Amtrak Residency, designed to allow creative professionals the time and space to work while traveling by train, included a private room with a desk, a bed, and a window on a long-distance route, with meals in the dining car. Over one hundred residencies were offered in 2016, the last year they were awarded.
But as Shipley and her cohort have proven, for the price of a train ticket, it’s possible to create a shorter residency on rails that combines six intense hours of writing time, three hours of collegial workshop time, and the comfort of sleeping in your own bed. All it takes is a little planning, ingenuity and modest fees.
First, find a round-trip route that takes you to a desired location in the morning and can bring you back at the end of the day. Second, collect your writing buddies and prepare for the workshop by distributing your works-in-progress beforehand, so you and your colleagues can read and comment carefully. And third, save up a small stash to make it all happen.
The round-trip ticket from Waterbury to Brattleboro would have cost Shipley about $36 if she purchased it more than two weeks in advance. And great lunches are to be had in Brattleboro starting at $10. All told, about a week’s worth of fancy lattes near home.
While a DIY residency costs more than a day of writing at your local coffee shop, it also offers more concentrated time, the soothing motion of the train, the company of colleagues, and the stimulation of travel.
I wrote about a DIY residency a few years ago, when I stayed in my brother’s San Francisco apartment while he was away. Now, he wants me to leave home so he can come write in my studio. With just a fraction of the creativity used to put words on a page, writers of all kinds can find inspiring places and uninterrupted time to work on their words.
What are your ideas for a DIY residency?
Deborah Lee Luskin is a writer, speaker and educator who tells stories to create change. Learn more and read her weekly blog at www.deborahleeluskin.com
6 thoughts on “Train Travel Residency”
Reblogged this on DayOff Blogging.
This is interesting. However I can’t write on a moving vehicle.
Great idea, and I love riding on trains! In answer to the question at the end of the post, “tree house” was the first place that popped into my mind, although getting up there might not be as easy for me as it would have been in the past:) After giving this some more thought, I remember a place where my sister stayed overnight some years back…probably in WI or IL. Anyway, it was a children’s bookstore that rented out its upstairs suite to overnight visitors. As I remember, it had charming decorations and was very quiet. My sister was free to go downstairs during the night and browse, if she wished. This could be a wonderful spot for a writer to get creative!
Wow! This is amazing! Wish even we could do such a thing in India. Here, in India, at times, (especially housewives) we don’t even get our own bedrooms free for writing peacefully. But I do hope things will improve soon.
– Jinal Shailesh Doshi
Author of The Mystery Crackers: A Chest’s Tale
How I would have revelled in this when I was younger and relatively unfettered. Bit old now but really love the idea. It is truly amazing! Thank you for the post.
Awesome Idea! We wish that it could have been possible in India.