Monday, I got an email that made my stomach clench. It was from the social media director at Amtrak and she was asking when might be the best time to call me.
Months ago, I -- like 16,000 other people -- applied for one of the #AmtrakResidency spots that writers have been discussing and dreaming about since the Twitter conversation that spawned the whole adventure.
(The whole story of how the #AmtrakResidency came about has been recounted several times over and is the same every time. Here is a good summation.)
I initially deleted the email telling me I was a semi-finalist without reading it -- I assumed it was just another random email on my Gmail promotions tab. But something didn't sit right and I went back into my Trash folder.
Oops. Things felt a little bit magic for a minute and I completed the next phase of the application.
I also tried to downplay it -- be all nonchalant even in my own head. I worked overtime to keep my hopes from going up and up and up.
But when I got Monday's email, even though it took a couple hours for the actual phone call to happen, I just knew. My hands shook and focusing on anything was really difficult (fortunately my lunch break came around). And, y'all, I was so giddy when my phone did ring and the Amtrak representative told me that I was selected to participate.
OMG, you guys, I am going to write on a train!
Obviously, I am still giddy. There are valid critical discussions to be had about the list of 24 writers (it's very white and definitely isn't a list of unknowns) but I think it's possible to acknowledge that and still be excited.
And I am so excited.
I've only taken one train trip before -- my dad and I took Amtrak from Atlanta to D.C., where we hit the monuments, the museums, and the Night Club 9:30. I saw the Dead Milkmen. He learned about moshing. But the train ride was a huge part of the experience, too.
Even though we had a sleeper roomette, I spent most of my time hanging out in the dining car with a bunch of other people I'd met on the train -- one of whom was the national junior rollerskating champion on her way either to or from a competition. We all played cards, hand after hand.
This time, I'll pack a deck of cards just in case, but I'm definitely going with writing in mind.
I'm eager for the rhythm of the train to influence the rhythm of my typing, my word choice, my narrative arc. I have characters already waiting for movement and forward momentum -- and the prospect of uninterrupted time to get to know all of them feels like the most amazing gift.
It's too easy for fiction to slide down the priority list. Work and then more work -- I feel sometimes like I'm always working, and I know some of you live that, too. Fiction feels like an indulgence because it doesn't translate to an immediate paycheck. And sometimes I'm just very tired.
The details of my journey are being worked out. I'm hoping to travel in November and to see some places I've never seen before. I'll keep you posted.
Since the announcement, I've been trying to figure out how to talk about this without being braggy. Maybe there isn't any way. But I had to share this with you, because it's such a big deal to me -- and so are all of you readers. I am feeling very very lucky right now.
I hope you'll celebrate with me, just for a few minutes in this one little post.
Are you celebrating anything at the moment? I really want to hear about it. Are you dreaming of anything you want to celebrate? Can we party together in the comments?
(P.S. #xoJaneBookClub post tomorrow -- I'm excited about that, too!)