Monday, March 31, 2014

Writing the Rails: #AmtrakResidency for Writers plus Vela Magazine's Writing Contest for Women

I recently dragged out an old unfinished essay (or a few rough renditions of it) from the filing cabinet, hoping to see it through revision to completion in time for the first ever nonfiction contest at Vela, an online magazine that publishes "creative nonfiction inspired by travel, written by women." 

Camping in the Black Rock Desert, NV (without Burning Man)
Well, as time will attest, hope isn't enough to get a story ready for submission; I failed to meet today's deadline. But after a disheartening attempt at reviving two other essays from my own slush pile (both from my MFA days and both unsalvageable in my eyes), I'm excited to report that this travel piece (about embarking on a seven-month solo road-trip around the U.S. 15 years ago) re-ignited my fire.

Just in case you've got something up your sleeve, it's not too late: a $500 prize plus publication!
We’re looking for creative nonfiction, written by women, with a strong voice, a compelling narrative, and/or a powerful driving question. We’re interested in a wide range of essays and stories, including literary journalism, personal essays, memoir, and expository or experimental essays. We are not a “women’s magazine,” and are not looking for work that is written solely for a female audience.

On the subject of my first love--travel writing--check out the new Amtrak Residency For Writers! "Test-run" by Jessica Gross, whose piece Writing the Lakeshore Limited was published in the Paris Review, this writing residency on wheels will select up to 24 writers on a "rolling basis" through March 2015. According to the #AmtrakResidency blog:

Round-trip train travel will be provided on an Amtrak long-distance route. Each resident will be given a private sleeper car, equipped with a desk, a bed and a window to watch the American countryside roll by for inspiration. We hope this experience will inspire creativity and most importantly fuel your sense of adventure!

My month-long Eurail trip in 1990 (edited on Instagram)
Since a Twitter handle is required on the application (Facebook URL and Instagram handle are optional), as the focus is "on individuals with a strong media presence," according to Amtrak's social media director Julia Quinn in an interview with The Wire, where you can read the backstory of the program's beginnings that all started with a few tweets.

Just be sure to read the fine print in the Official Terms you're agreeing to, including:

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, including, but not limited to, advertising and marketing, and to sublicense such rights to any third parties.

That includes your writing sample.

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