Monday, March 10, 2014

Writing the Rails

My little corner of the Internet has been abuzz all day with the news of the Amtrak Writers' Residency. The company will be giving 24 writers a round-trip ticket on one of their long distance routes to write ("room" only—you'll have to come  up with the "board..." and I'm okay with that). The competition is going to be fierce—almost every writer I know has already filled out the online application (and it was only announced two days ago). It's open to all disciplines—although a composer friend of mine wondered if he could be a viable candidate... in looking at the guidelines,* it would probably be difficult to provide the work sample (maybe a 10-page PDF from a score?).

As I've said before before in this blog, I'm a huge fan of train travel and this residency has given me the idea of creating a site specific piece for a train. I have no idea how it would work for the audience... or the actors, for that matter... or how to rehearse it... but I've never let that stop me in the past!

*It's important to point out that there is a lot of concern—and it is justified—about Amtrak's Official Terms and this point in particular:
6.   Grant of Rights: In submitting an Application, Applicant hereby grants Sponsor the absolute, worldwide, and irrevocable right to use, modify, publish, publicly display, distribute, and copy Applicant’s Application, in whole or in part, for any purpose... 
I decided to go ahead and agree to this point—although I'm sure the Dramatists Guild would slap me upside the head for it—and submit anyway. Legally, it's not very smart of me but since almost nothing I've written is very commercial, I weighed the experience I would gain with the potential "loss of income" and the experience won; I know that others will not agree with me on this point but it's how I feel. I hope that Amtrak will reconsider this point and make their rights request a little more reasonable.

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