I grew up in a Frisco railroad town. My great-grandmother did laundry (by hand in a giant kettle in her front yard) for the Houston House, where railroad men went to eat and sleep. When I was thirteen I landed my first job at the Houston House, washing dishes.
Every chance I got, I took the train. I could go to the next town for only thirty-five cents, see a movie matinee for fifteen cents, and be home before dark.
I love taking the train, for long distances or short. A friend and I took the train from Portland, Oregon to the Grand Canyon and back. We splurged and got a sleeper, which had long been a dream of mine. Who could forget those zany train scenes in “Some Like it Hot” with Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis, and Jack Lemmon? I didn’t have that experience, but I certainly enjoyed my sleeping berth.
Just last week I took the train from San Diego to Los Angeles to spend the day in the company of other women writers. I was inspired by the writers. I was inspired by the train trip. These days a person can write on the train, not only in her journal, but on her laptop, plugged in to the train’s Wi-fi.
I haven’t ridden the train in Europe yet, but I’ve heard about it all my life. Trains make a great backdrop for any kind of writing from poetry to thrillers and everything in between.
If I’m so lucky as to win a spot on Rail Europe, I will use my time to work on a full-length book of poetry. I need the time away from my daily routines to fine-tune, reshape, mold, and compile a book of poems written in reaction to verses by Emily Dickinson.
Rail Europe is running a contest for creative types to spend a week with them traveling from France to Switzerland. If you’re interested, you should click here and enter. At least take a look, you might be inspired.