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Amtrak Writer’s Residency is a Dream Made True by Social Media



Two decades ago, I crossed the United States by train for the first time. From Portland, Oregon, in the gloomy shadow of my first break-up with my first American girlfriend, up to Seattle, across a restorative, fluffy-cloud-filled Big Sky to the plains of North Dakota and Minnesota and Wisconsin, where we were briefly halted by a cow on the track. The Empire Builder took me to Chicago, then it was on to New York, Boston and the plane that would take me back, unwillingly, to London. The hours flew.

But here’s the thing I remember above all about that trip: I wrote like a goddamn demon. In about 4 days, I filled four and a half legal notebooks with my favorite fountain pen and cartridges of purple ink. (Hey, I was 20.) Not much of the actual writing is worth mentioning. It’s more that the sheer prolific variety of it astonished me: letters home; ill-advised letters to my ex; fiction and non-fiction; short stories and shaggy-dog stories; proposals and extracts; journaling; therapy; travelogue; tone poems from the observation car Read more…

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