View from a Moving Train

Today’s blog comes to you from a train. I’ll be traveling 36 hours from Denver to Memphis with a 5 hour stop in Chicago that I am looking forward to. The train is taking us through some amazingly remote areas with virtually no cell service.

Looking at the landscape unfolding out of our windows, it amazes me that this was created in the 19th century, laying track across the remotest areas of the country. What an amazing project management feat!

I need to look up how they did this, without good communication structures. Even the telegraph followed the railroad. So, project managers had to make their plans and schedules without the ability to quickly revise and communicate those decisions out.

Perhaps they did this as the ancient Romans did when building the roads: just one foot ahead of the other until the road was built, though there are more complexities with railroads, I imagine.

Writing can be like this. You plan. Or you don’t. Pantser or Planner, you can’t communicate up to the future to structure the story. You have to revise your plan on the fly or discover your way through a difficult countryside.

Oh, that character says this is their story and you already have a mountain of plot? Divert around the mountain or dynamite a tunnel through it? You’re not sure what is on the other side, so you lay your track and hope it works.

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One thing I didn’t expect from the train was to be enchanted by the fascinating people. A good third of the people on the train are either Mennonite or Amish. The men have beards and the women wear the little white caps and plain colored dresses. But some of the dresses have buttons and some do not.

For a long time when I lived in Ohio, I thought I could figure out by dress alone who was Mennonite and who was Amish, but I learned that it is far more complicated than that. There are conservative Mennonites and liberal Amish. There are people who marry across the two groups and they adopt one form of dress or the other. So, I remain humble now in my lack of understanding. I wonder if the train is more convenient to the Amish/Mennonites who live in rural areas because unlike airports, trains touch much of the rural area.

Sweet fictional travels, friends!

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