If model railroading is supposed to be so much fun, I wasn’t having any. When I took up it again in the 1990s, I started filling my basement with multiple layouts that snaked along every available wall. I moved and removed the same partition wall at least three times. I built a new wall and later removed it, all driven by the requirements of some trackplan. The punch line for this joke is that none of these plans ever satisfied me. There was always another one that promised to be perfect, whispering its siren song in my ears.

After years of this frustrating experience I was ready to walk away, thinking that I had a deep character flaw that prevented me from ever seeing anything through. The real issue was that I was chasing a dream I actually didn’t want. You see I’m an introvert at heart and I’ve learned that has a huge impact on my practice of the craft.

The mainstream hobby seems to have a singular focus on big layouts, monthly op sessions and other extroverted activities. As an introvert, managing people for an operating session is a nightmare and I have been very critical of the implied notion that this is the only way to enjoy the craft. Us quiet folks over in the corner can feel left out because we aren’t with “the program.” If you’re introverted like me, you may or may not share similar feelings.

The social aspects of the craft are clearly enjoyable for many of you and I must admit there are times when I’m envious of others who are more outgoing. I’m not a life-of-the-party guy though and noisy crowded environments drain the life out of me. I prefer quieter conversations with one or two like-minded people and, by deliberate choice my practice of the craft is a solitary, creative pursuit more than a social one. In fact, I think of modeling time as a safe haven from the chaos that life throws at you.

These weeds are easy to ignore under regular circumstances, but they bring a contrast to the moving train in the background that makes the image what it is. Without them, it would just be an out-of-focus photo of a train.

It’s easy to feel misunderstood and overlooked as an introvert. Many are not assertive, preferring to remain in the background as an observer rather than a participant. However, introverts bring a number of strengths to the modeling conversation.

Introverts can be keen observers, noticing details and nuances others overlook. We like to deepen our understanding before commenting or offering opinions. Introverts often see connections and how ideas cross-pollinate from different disciplines.

We often bring a deep introspection and self-awareness to our modeling. I have a stubborn independent streak that fuels a desire to go my own way. You’ve seen that expressed many times in these posts. Today I try to be less dogmatic about getting my point across, so that others have room to bring their own understanding to the conversation. It’s a balancing act that is never done perfectly on my part.

On the positive side this stubbornness helped me clarify my modeling interests, freeing me from the one-of-everything syndrome that prevents others from choosing a direction for their work. Speaking personally, I find this clarity liberating rather than limiting. If you’re bored, it’s not the subject, it’s because you brought that boredom with you. Introverts have learned how to be comfortable in their own skin. We can bring a curiosity to the work that keeps us engaged. I’ve learned that any subject has many layers to explore.

If you’re an introvert who feels torn between what the mainstream promotes and what you find more enjoyable, go with your heart. Understand that your choices are as important as those more vocal and/or popular gurus that everybody clings too. Learn what truly interests you and give it all you’ve got. In my view, this craft is what you make of it and what you can discover for yourself as a result.

The work of OST Publications is a reflection of my quiet thoughtful approach to the craft. There are plenty of writers, bloggers and hobby gurus who garner more attention for their views than I do here. I could and probably should hawk the books more than I do but I have a hard time finding that balance and while sales are important, I’m not chasing numbers. Instead, I’m learning to use my strengths as an introvert to play a longer game; one that I believe will ultimately pay better dividends. If I tried to be an extrovert like the others, it would sound phony in a heartbeat.

Regards,
Mike