In an interview last December, novelist Alexander Chee offhandedly said that he wished Amtrak had a residency for writers. Thanks to a Twitter storm of people dreaming that same dream, the program is now a reality. Over the weekend, Amtrak opened up the application for the #AmtrakResidency program (yes, hashtag and all). Each resident will be given a private sleeper car with a desk, bed, and window “to watch the American countryside roll by for inspiration.” It sounds like a pretty sweet — if endlessly idyllic — way to carve out some writing time. And with Amtrak on board, we have a few more suggestions for companies that should have their own writers’ residencies. Because if this experience has taught us anything, it’s that Twitter can also be used to pressure companies into offering writing residencies. That’s a new one. Get to it, America!
Coffee shops are one of the ultimate writer clichés, but for good reason. Where else can you type away for hours on end, subsisting on only the cheapest small black coffee? It’s so ridiculous, it’s basically squatting. And a Starbucks residency wouldn’t even require much, just a guaranteed outlet, unlimited lattes, and maybe access to the coveted employee bathroom. People have been doing this unofficially for years (but free drinks would be nice, though).
It is offensive that people think carbo-loading is only for athletes. Writing is an endurance sport, one best served by a generous supply of pancakes and coffee, served piping hot. As one of the few 24-hour dining establishments open nationwide, it is a serious disservice to writers across America that IHOP hasn’t been encouraging them to park themselves in a private booth and go to town on unlimited breakfast foods.
IKEA holds the appeal of a hotel, with a touch more exhibitionism. (Do you need to be procrasti-shamed?) Plus, it’s like having a fancy kitchen! And a bedroom! And another bedroom! And your kid’s bedroom! Just imagine being given free reign to “live” in IKEA, Swedish meatballs only a few steps away. You could finally occupy one of those fluffy beds for good — or at least a few days — to write. Um, that’s magical.
Pretty Much Any Airline
Layovers are annoying if you’re trying to get somewhere on time, but awesome if you need time to write. Yes, a free trip would be nice, and provide boatloads of inspiration, but if you’re up in the air for hours at a time, you basically have to break out your laptop and write, right? Just bring along a pair of noise-canceling headphones. And also, think of all the people you would encounter in the airport! Airports are like the microcosms of the worst aspects of human behavior. Hello, inspiration.
There are Motel 6s all across the country. So many, in fact, that you could road-trip it On the Road-style staying exclusively at Motel 6s. Say what you want about posh hotels — The Standard recently offered its own writing residency with The Paris Review — but there is sometime to be said about slightly sketchy motels, especially in pursuit of a road-trip and inspiration for your seedy crime novel.
Maybe a Carnival Cruise sounds like your hell on earth. In which case, great! You’ll stay in your room and write the entire time. But a Carnival Cruise writing residency would provide an unparalleled view of endless miles of ocean, alongside Las Vegas-style showgirl entertainment and the lingering smell of sunscreen. It’s basically like the Amtrak of the sea.
For writers who need a little tech support. Maybe your Macbook Pro has conked out completely. Maybe your CD drive renders you unable to listen to your favorite mixtape (in which case, consider Spotify). Maybe you can’t type any words with the letter “h” because you spilled water/coffee/whiskey all over your keyboard. Maybe you just really like minimalism and the presence of pleasant, uniformed tech support repeatedly telling you that everything is going to be okay. An Apple Store residency would be like a futuristic womb-workspace for writers in need of nourishment, technological or otherwise.