Second Writing Workshop, Literary Magazine, Amtrak Residency

Loyal readers and writers,

As mentioned before, we had our second writing workshop this past Sunday. I think we will be making this a regular monthly event, but as the club grows, we’ll need a bigger venue to accommodate us. I’m especially excited for the warm weather because that means we can have workshops outside where the possibilities and space are endless, or at least not restrictive.

The nuances of our workshops are still in beta as we find our rhythm. For example, my brilliant idea to have a room specially set aside for people to take breaks in was a complete failure. Do not try this at home. I didn’t take into account the principle that people don’t want to move and such forced physical breaks are very unnatural. So I think in the future we will just try to alternate between periods of silence and open floor sessions.

One exciting development is the birth of our literary magazine and the first issue we hope to release in the coming months. Currently we are letting it take shape “organically”, as they like to say, and will have it primarily online with a limited number of printed copies (as struggling writers do). There will be themed releases, art, poetry, short stories, and maybe even longer pieces. Really, we are not limiting ourselves in the scope of genre. The more blurred the genre lines the better.

The other very exciting development in the writing world which everyone is talking about is the rumored Amtrak Residency program. I personally am in so much anticipation over this and at the same time have so many questions: 1) how will participants be chosen? 2) will they require any measurable proof of writing at the end and/or how do you balance (or even define) “writers” versus writers against the adage “you can’t rush art”? After all, is a sludge pile of rushed, sloppy dregs worth more than one great piece that changes the world?? 3) It’s been asked, but what, in Amtrak’s eyes, will constitute a writer?

Perhaps the biggest worry and potential disappointment is that whatever comes of this will only be offered to already established writers and not the hoards of self-published, indie, undiscovered writers for whom this WOULD be the dream (and esteem boost) to push so much work to completion, and we will once again find ourselves in the catch-22 of “this unpaid internship requires five years of relevant experience.”

While exploring Amtrak’s digs on their blog I came upon the observation room, and my first thought was how incredible of a circumstance it would be to host our writing group. Traveling, writing, and beautiful scenery are a heavenly threesome for creativity. As so many have noted, you leave your life and step out of time. On trains (and planes and ships) you become no one and, consequently, free(er). I have done some of my best (or at least most enjoyable) writing while in this sublime state of transit, and I can only imagine what a mind meld may yield in such a state.

My mind is spinning with places this can go: friendly competition, certain themes for certain trips, literary publications based around these programs, and, most importantly, a grab at the gold for people who may not otherwise have the chance for such bounty. Dreams unfulfilled is a sad state of life too many go through due to no fault of their own but merely from unfavorable circumstance that stifle what could be. It is often the right circumstances that push out the potential waiting like a bud within us, and as anyone who’s ever tried to break into a competitive realm knows (so, anyone), the rewards and chances are not dealt purely to those who deserve it.

I digress. Amtrak, I leave you with these highly pertinent questions about the Amtrak Residency: when will it start, when will it end, can we go to Colorado, and what will we do about crying babies?

– Alina (writing for the Writing Hour)


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