My love of train travel is surpassed only by my love of writing. Put the two together, and I may explode from bliss.
Please help me explode from bliss!
Amtrak is doing a very Beta-level writing residency program – where lucky riders just sit on a long-distance train and write – and I want – nay, I need – to be a part of it. Here’s the catch, so far the only way they pick writers is through social media, which means I need your help asking Amtrak to send me on a writer’s residency.
So, I’m asking you all to please, either using the giveaway below or doing it on your own, tweet to @Amtrak and ask them to send me on a long-distance train writer’s residency.
In return, I’ll send everyone who helps me (and then sends me their address) a postcard, and one lucky winner will get an in-depth, heartfelt, hopefully poetic letter about the importance of train travel in a world of high-speed planes and massive freeways.
What I will do during this residency:
- Fulfill a lifelong dream of taking a cross-country Amtrak ride and writing the whole time.
- Get a little closer to self-publishing my memoir (the one traditional publishers said was “very well written but too niche” but I am determined to publish on my own).
- Get a little closer to finishing the second book in Simple Street, my diverse YA series.
So please Tweet at Amtrak, asking them to send me on a writer’s residency! You can use the rafflecopter giveaway below to help you out, or you can tweet something original using @Amtrak and @QueerieBradshaw in it.
Thanks for your support!
Want to know more about my love for trains? Here’s an excerpt from an article I wrote for Curve magazine years ago about train travel.
“Grab your passport and follow me,” Laurel whispered my ear. She didn’t need to be so quiet, we were the only ones around who spoke English, but fear forced us into secrecy.
The man across the train car – the one who had just pulled a gun on us – asked where we were going. “To get food,” my friend replied in the calmest Russian she could muster, and he let us pass.
Less than an hour into our journey across Eastern Ukraine, a young self-identified mobster from Odessa pointed a pistol at us and, staring me in the eyes, pulled the trigger. He would later tell Ukrainian police that he was just flirting with us, but when he cackled, cocked his gun again and put it back in his holster, there was nothing anyone could do to convince me to spend any more of our 12-hour journey near this man.
The train attendants were reluctant at first to believe two American girls “crying wolf”, but a call to Peace Corps headquarter where Laurel worked soon got us a police escort for the rest of our journey.
This is the only bad experience I’ve ever had on a train.
From my first 30-minute ride through the San Diegan mountains as a child, to the trip I took last month through the Pacific Northwest, I have found train travel to be gleefully exhilarating. Where others see tracks with limited destinations, I see a journey with limitless freedoms.
I have dined on five-course meals while travelling through wine country, watched the Alps pass by while playing cards and chatted in five languages while passing under the English Channel, all on trains.
My first girlfriend and I fell in love travelling through Italy on trains. I still remember the moment at the Varenna Esino station that I looked into her eyes and realized everything between us was about to change. We held hands as we rode through the mountain passes from Lake Como to Florence and that evening I made love to a woman for the first time.
Two years later, alone and lost, I boarded my third train of the day, attempting to get to a famous castle on the hill in the Northern Czech Republic. My only companion was Sven, a ceramic gnome my friend gave me before leaving, and I took pictures of him with the red and white striped Czech train cars in an attempt to keep myself from crying of frustration.
Train travel in Italy was easier, not only because I spoke Italian, but also because their system is so well-organized– that is when they’re not on strike. The Czech Republic, on the other hand, wasn’t as straightforward, and I often found myself on the wrong train at the wrong time going the wrong way. Yet no matter how lost I got, I could always count on the lulling clickity-clack of the tracks to ease my worries and calm me into a zen like state of happiness.