Writing on a Train

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.

With thanks to Gail and Charles for contributing to my idea bank, “TEXAS EAGLE”–

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



Filed under Fun, Inspiration, Uncategorized, Writing Spaces

7 responses to “Writing on a Train

  1. Enjoyed this post, Jean! I think it would be fun to write on a train. We’ve talked about taking a train trip sometime. That scenic Canadian one sounds great.

    When you do get around to writing on a train, you’ll be sure and fill us in, right? 🙂

  2. I sure will, Karen. If you take the trip before I do, post all the details, okay?

  3. My commuting days preceded my writing days. Usually, the train lulled me to sleep.

    Maybe a train with a private room and dining car would keep me awake long enough to consider writing.

  4. Ted

    I don’t think this is what you had in mind, but this fellow has been writing a daily Haiku about his train commute between Milwaukee and Chicago for several years. Some are pretty amusing: http://www.TrainCommuteHaiku.com

  5. I took Amtrak from Chicago to Austin, TX, round trip, and again from Chicago to New Orleans, round trip, this spring. Wrote on both trips and was amazed at home much I loved it. The lack fo WiFi was something I loved, very little distraction. It was a truly inspiring experience.

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