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Amtrak Residency- a few thoughts.

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Here’s the official application form for the awesome Amtrak Residency program for writers!

So this has gone live.  I’m mostly typing out my thoughts here, because part of me is screaming yes, do it, doo it!  But the rational side still has questions.  So first things first, the link to the official terms:  http://blog.amtrak.com/officialterms/

First ow is term #2: This is only open to residents in the 48 contiguous US.  And the way this reads, even if you live somewhere else or are willing to go to one of Amtrak’s start points, you’re still disqualified because of legal residency.

Term #3, application period ends March 31, 2015.  So this isn’t a rush, which is awesome. But we have no guarantee that this period will stay open that long.

Term #4 is outlining the application process.  This makes me go ucky face [emphasis is theirs on this part]: 

Partial or incomplete/piecemeal submissions (e.g., submission of Application without writing sample/answers to questions) will NOT be accepted or reviewed.

Carefully read these Terms. Then, click the check box signifying that you have read, fully understand and agree to these Terms. IF YOU DO NOT CHECK THE BOX INDICATING YOUR AGREEMENT TO THE TERMS, YOUR APPLICATION WILL NOT BE ACCEPTED OR REVIEWED.  

Proof of entering information at the Website is not considered proof of submitting Application. Sponsor (or its agencies) may acknowledge receipt of Application but is in no way obligated to do so.

In other words, it’s up to you to make sure everything’s perfect, no second chances.  Because oh yeah, only one application per person, or….

Submission of more than one Application will result in disqualification of all Applications submitted by a given individual and none of the Applications will be reviewed.

They’re strict on this shit, yo.

#5 is content guidelines which are reasonable for a family oriented business so more yadda yadda yadda etc.

#6 is where writers on Twitter have been flipping their tables.

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

So whatever you send in on your application not only doesn’t belong to you, but they get to use it as they wish and no promise of putting your name to it if and when they do.  Emphasis mine on that bit.  I’m a bit hesitant on this issue as well.  But a strict reading suggest that only the application submission is subjected to this, not the writing done while on the train itself.  Let’s be honest, that’s the work you should be most possessive about.

Skipping ahead a bit to #10: There will only be up to 24 in total.  As in, they’re gonna only allow two dozen trips in the residency program but reserve the right to have fewer.  The amount of the award is $900 USD.  Any passage that goes over, you’re paying for the rest.

And this is NOT a vacation trip.  You reach your destination, you either pay for a hotel to stay in overnight, or you’re right back on another train.  Which for me means, no playing hinky with the schedule to keep your ticket under said $900.  It’s the travel agent in me. [ Flexibility in schedule means cheaper tickets.  Remember that kids.]  Granted, this detail isn’t explicitly outlined in the terms, but I remember it being mentioned in the Twitter chatter previous to the announcement of this program.

The rest of the terms are the usual legal “cover the company’s ass” stuff.

The last Hmm isn’t in the terms and agreement, but the application itself.  They want to know your Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram links.  So they expect some social media output from you either during or after the trip.  It’s never free.  It’s all in what they want from you. 

Also not mentioned is whatever agreement you sign to get the trip.  This is just the application process.  There will be more down the road if they choose you for the writer.  Every job has a book of paperwork you have to sign.  Amtrak has to cover their bases, or else lose more money on the deal.

That said… The romantic side of me is already dreaming of being in that little roommette pounding away at the keys.  I’m still in.  But if you decide to apply, remember to keep your rational side just as present as the romantic in you.

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