During a wonderful stay with my family at the Chateau Frontenac in Quebec, we took a tour of the famed hotel and learned that it was just one of a series of grand chateaux the Canadian Pacific Railway built along its cross-country route. That tour ignited in me an intoxicating fantasy of traveling from east to west the entire length of Canada and staying in each one of those hotels.
In retrospect, I can see that train travel has always excited me. From Murder on the Orient Express to Strangers on a Train, The Old Patagonian Express, and even the Hogwarts Express, the romance and mystery have all left a big impression on my imagination.
So, you can imagine my delight when I learned recently that Amtrak is offering residencies to writers who want to pen The Great American Novel (or other work) while riding the rails. I decided to apply for one of the 24 positions available. I dutifully filled out the application form and hit “send,” only to have it bounce back immediately, with the warning that I must enter my Twitter handle.
Twitter handle? Did I really have to sign up for something I’ve always considered a major time suck?
I weighed the alternatives. On the one hand, I can certainly understand that Amtrak would want publicity for its ingenious program. Why a blog chronicling the trip – with no 140- character limit — isn’t sufficient, I can’t figure out.
And, on yet another hand, I would really love to take advantage of the opportunity to travel and write without distraction, fully immersed in the atmosphere and culture of the rails. I already have the kernel of an idea for a story on a train.
Which brings me to the point of this post. I did indeed sign up for a Twitter account, but now I need to get followers. (This Luddite had to ask her progeny for help on how to do that.) If I promise not to bore you all with ridiculous details of my day (e.g., I stopped to buy a postcard, I ate a salad for lunch), would you, my wonderful readers, consider signing up to follow me? My handle is @goodmankaufman.
There is absolutely no guarantee that I will win one of the coveted spots on the Amtrak residency (probably 24,000 writers will apply for the 24 spots), but with your help at least I can legitimately say I have a Twitter account.
Maybe we can even find a way for you to appear in the story that results (first name only, of course).