I had breakfast yesterday with my cousin Gail and her husband, Charles. They’re spending a few days here after a cross-country train trip from Texas to Chicago. We were discussing their trip, and Gail said, “You should try it. You could write on the train!”
EUREKA!! I could write on the train! If you follow this blog, you know that I like posting about places where writers write. But, I hadn’t considered a train. I’m not talking about a commuter train where one scribbles ideas while thick thighs of passengers standing in the aisle jostle his laptop. No, I’m talking about a real train with private rooms.
“It’s so relaxing,” Gail said. “You just sit there and watch the scenery go by.”
“The meals are good, too,” Charles added. “In the dining car, they seat you with strangers, different ones at each meal. So you meet new people.”
Wow, I could have a private room for writing, get tons of ideas for setting, and meet potential characters! Writing on a train sounded like a great idea, especially when Charles mentioned that Amtrak has a scenic route through northern Canada.
When I got home, I Googled “writing on trains,” and I learned that writers in America often write on commuter trains while Europeans tend to write on longer train rides and they blog about it. I was excited to find a web page called Trainwriters.com, but when I went there, I discovered that it was all about how to write graffiti on train and subway walls. (Go there, if you dare.)
So, I added write on a train to my writer’s bucket list. Maybe I’ll take that scenic route North. But in the meantime—I’d love to know: Have you written on a train? Would you recommend it?
If you’re curious about what an Amtrak train room is like, I found this informative and humorous review.
My Grandaddy was a railroad man
When I was young he took me by the hand
Dragged me to the station at the break of dawn
Said “boy I got to show you somethin’ ‘fore it’s gone”
She was blue and silver – she was right on time
We rode that Texas Eagle on the Mopac line
We had some sandwiches that Granma packed
We rode to Palestine and hitchhiked back
Home in time for supper with a tale to tell
That night I dreamed I heard that lonesome whistle wail
When I got old enough to take the train alone
I rode that Texas Eagle down to San Antone
Nowadays they don’t make no trains
Just the piggyback freighters and them Amtrak things
They shut the Eagle down a while ago
Sold it to the railroad down in Mexico
But every now and then that whistle’s on my mind
I ride that Texas Eagle ‘cross the borderline.
©Steve Earle and the Del McCoury Band