Basically, things were popping along at a nice (though not brilliant pace, since I'm still way rusty) when I hit a block. I basically arrived at a scene, and did not know how to continue; it was also a scene I felt was necessary. Having just found the solution to this block, I thought I'd let you all in on it.
Essentially, this was yet another one of those weird times when what I really needed to do was go out and do some research on a thing I thought I'd never have to do research on. One of the few shreds of artistic integrity that I still cling to is a refusal to write about things I have absolutely no knowledge of. Music Makes The Heart has been pretty much a prime victim of this; first, I sometimes have difficulty writing it because I don't know a lot about music (although, having actually heard music, I know enough to sort've dodge the issue whenever it comes up). Then, recently at that, I had to stop and go on a research binge about gardening, because I didn't know anything about that, either. Admittedly I didn't use any of that research, but research was done and that was the important thing. This time, I needed to do research about steam trains.
Luckily, my old buddy LiamsShadow happens to know quite a lot about steam trains and is my best friend irl, so I picked his brain, and we came up with not one, not two, but four steam engines, all in immaculate detail, that I could essentially use as stock footage whenever I needed to describe a train. It took us a couple of hours of discussion and then a late-night wikipedia binge for me; it will probably be used for about a paragraph of description and in-jokes.
(For those of you who like steam trains and wish for me to go into excruciating detail on the background we made for them, I will oblige, since I know that trainspotters in general are appreciative of fine details. The engine featured in the chapter is the No.1001 HRH Princess Celestia. In order to differentiate it from more common Equestrian trains (which I'm told are based more on small, American locomotives), we patterned it more after large, British steam locomotives employed in the industrial era; more specifically, after the LNER Class P2, more specifically than that, after No. 2001 Cock 'o the North, and even more specifically than that, No. 2001 Cock 'o the North after it had its front end altered into a streamlined wedge shape circa 1938. Much like the train it was patterned after, it has a 2-8-2 wheel wheel condfiguration, making it adept at pulling heavy loads at high speed.
The use of the LNER Class P2, a British engine with a wheel arrangement more suited for and more common in America, was not an accident. In backstory [yes, I gave the engines backstory, which is more than I do for most characters-- hell, Octamom doesn't even have a name], the HRH Princess Celestia, as well as its companion engine the No. 1002 HRH Princess Luna, were designed by Equestrian engineers after being sent on a trip to observe the train design of the Griffon Lands. The engines were built and presented to the princesses as, essentially, surprise gifts, and were immediately put to work in service of Equestrian citizens by providing them with high-speed, high comfort express travel and goods delivery on major lines such as those leading to Canterlot, Fillydelphia, Manehattan, and elsewhere. The names of the services were made by the Princesses themselves, who had fun.
There were two more engines presented as gifts to the Equestrian Royal Family, built in honour of the marriage between Shining Armour and Princess Cadence. These engines are, however, substantially less powerful and work double-headed on much smaller lines, including those going to and from small villages such as Ponyville, and even sometimes as far out as Appleoosa. Further details on these two engines are, as yet, unknown.)
So, yes. That's why Music Makes The Heart isn't up yet: because I spend ridiculous amounts of time making up background elements like that. Again, many thanks to LiamsShadow for helping me out; he did most of the concrete details and I made up most of the ridiculous backstory. Join us in the last chapter of MMTH, when I take six months off to learn the entirety of music theory in order to describe some composition you'd probably have been happier imagining for yourselves anyway! [/obnoxiousness]
But no, seriously, I'm taking the afternoon off from all my other hobbies in order to finish the chapter and get a head start on FoTF. Expect updates either today or tomorrow. (For anyone who still wants excuses on why my update has taken so long, I've also been playing the demo for Distorted Travesty 3 which is balls hard but super fun, and have been learning to program in Python in my off time. These are the hobbies I'm taking the afternoon off from.)