The giant echo chamber of popular magazines, blogs, online forums and  podcasts gives the perception that model railroading means the same thing to everyone and that we’re all chasing the same goals. While the repetition of ideas and concepts suggests a homogenized view, there are many stories we tell ourselves about model trains. With that thought in mind, author Seth Godin has a very useful concept to consider: people like us do things like this.

Applied to our craft for example, it might go like this:

People like us, who enjoy operations, build layouts like this.

People like us, who enjoy the craft of scratchbuilding, build models like this.

People like us, who appreciate finescale modeling, approach the hobby like this.

Three different stories about model trains, where the important thing to understand is that each person chose the story that’s the most attractive and satisfying for them.

The operations enthusiast isn’t that concerned about fine details, while the model builder may not want a layout at all. Both are focused on what they find the most interesting. The finescale modeler tells himself yet a different story about model trains, one that’s perfectly suited for him but maybe not the others.

Not everyone has a big empty basement waiting to be filled with model trains. Not everyone is building a time machine or modeling “work.” It’s equally true that many people don’t care about building models or pursuing fine craft of any kind. When we understand that the story around model trains isn’t the same for everyone and doesn’t have to be, we can simply focus on the one that’s right for us. Trying to convert people who aren’t interested in the same things as you are is not only frustrating; it’s largely a waste of everyone’s time.

OST Publications, and this blog, speaks to people who enjoy a more thoughtful discussion about modeling and appreciate the craft as a journey. My books take a nontraditional approach that encourages a deep understanding of what you want from the craft along with a focus on artistry and craftsmanship. This approach doesn’t speak to everybody but it does speak to people like us who do things like this.