We’re trapped in a workplace binary. Almost everyone chooses to work from home or in an office—but what about those of us who want to work in transit? Twenty-four authors are about to find out.
After a Twitter campaign spawned the hashtag #AmtrakResidency late last year, Amtrak received 16,000 applications from writers seeking to hone their craft aboard the company’s trains. On Wednesday, it announced the first class of resident writers; over the next year, the two dozen authors will ride Amtrak’s long-distance routes searching for inspiration and the perfect sentence construction.
As the L.A. Times reports, the list includes journalist Farai Chideya, bestselling author Karen Karbo, National Book Critics Circle Award winner Darin Strauss, tech entrepreneur Tynan, Gothamist‘s Jen Carlson, YA author Anna Davies, transgender author Jennifer Boylan, and Lisa Schwarzbaum, Entertainment Weekly‘s former film critic.
Back in March, Amtrak recruited a human guinea pig, writer Jessica Gross, to test out the writing benefits of its trains. “I’ve always been a claustrophile, and I think that explains some of the appeal—the train is bounded, compartmentalized, and cozily small,” she wrote in the Paris Review. “The journey is bounded, too: I know when it will end. Train time is found time.”
Judges of applicants included Alexander Chee, who initially started the #AmtrakResidency campaign, as well as Amtrak’s Joe McHugh, Random House’s Samuel Nicholson, and Amy Stolls, the director of literature at the National Endowment for the Arts.
We can only assume the residencies will be co-sponsored by coffee, Dramamine, and elbow patches.