The More Things Change…

We are on vacation at the moment.  Lumpy’s posting is around 900 miles from our family.  Saturday morning we loaded the baby, the dog, and a bunch of stuff in the car and headed north.
As I sat there typing on my phone it hit me.
Technology has changed writing.  When I was a kid I would listen to my Walkman as I wrote with a pen in my journal.  Shaky penstrokes I might not be able to decipher once I returned home filled lined page after lined page.  Old country tunes softly played in my ears where I could barely hear.  (If I played them where I could hear over Dad’s talk radio my Walkman would travel with Mom the rest of the trip.)  On those long trips the legends of the West became my friends.  William Bonny (aka Billy the Kid), Sam Houston, Jim Bowie, Kit Carson, and the fictitious Cartwright Clan and Barley Family danced through my imagination as Marty Robbins and Chris LeDoux sung lyrics that brought the country we drove through to life.
As a teenager I wrote ideas to type up when I got home while listening to CDs with my headphones.  The Cartwrights were replaced with The Magnificent Seven and Lonesome Dove.  Marty Robbins was replaced with Garth Brooks, dcTalk and Audio Adrenaline.  Yet legends in their long black coats, high top boots and six-shooters still filled my writing.  In writing – that depended on how well maintained the dirt road we were driving on to be readable – I used the renegades of old to work through the changes in my life.
In my twenties I typed and listened to Chris LeDoux via mp3s.  The road could be bumpy and rough, but the crack of John Wesley Horton’s pistol and the whipping of his jacket came through loud and clear.  Descriptions of the wagon ruts I just saw were easily deciphered at home.  My main character now knew more about life, though the gypsy blood of a cowgirl still flowed through her veins.
Now at thirty I’m on my phone writing stories, posting directly to my blog, listening to music or watching live TV and stopping at Starbucks.  Where the barista scans my phone for my payment.  As I drive down the road with Chris LeDoux helping pass the time, my main character is riding through the sage brush.  Her horse stops by the Rio Grande, a drink to quench their thirst beckoning them.  The wind whistles past, turning the arroys of Southern New Mexico cold.  The yucca and cacti hold the promise of summer in their flower buds.  The Organ Mountains are blue hills in the distance.  The land is hard and dusty, yet as my character rests for a moment she realizes there is no where else she would feel comfortable.  As she mounts and follows me further north on my trip she sings Desperado.
Life has changed a lot since I first picked up pen and paper.  But, I guess some things never change.  I will always write about the American West.  And my character will always ride through this hard land, even if she now has GPS and a cellphone to keep her company while working cattle.

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