Tuesday, January 19, 2010

As a child of the internet, I spend a lot of time browsing the web reading forums about my favorite pastimes. Right now, there are 9 tabs open in my browser, including a video game site, a Macintosh site, and two Model Railroad sites. It is suffice to say that I sometimes suffer from information overload—posts get skimmed instead of read. Topics that I might enjoy engaging in conversation over are skipped because I simply don’t have time to write a response—some other post on another site needs my attention.

There was a post on Trainboard.com today, however, that really got me thinking. The “OP” (original poster, the person that started the topic) inquired as to how many layouts you had been through. In other words, how many layouts you had constructed and completely scrapped.

The answers were rather surprising, at least to me. Most people responded that they were on their 3rd or 4th layout. To me, that’s rather encouraging.

Oftentimes, this hobby can be intimidating for the inexperienced. The industry’s main publication, “Model Railroader,” has long been criticized for showcasing only “finished” layouts from modeling gods which the average person can never hope to match in quality and size. Internet forums have lessened this somewhat, but the quality of work shown on the “Weekly Photo Fun” and “Sunday Night Photo Fun” threads (at Tainboard.com and the Atlas Forum, respectively) can often be intimidating in its own light.

So it was encouraging to hear that most everybody else had screwed up their first layout royally, too.

Myself, I’m on layout number 3…of the N-Scale variety, anyway. My first layout was far, far too big and far too ambitious. I bit off way more than I could chew. Of course, that was compounded by the problem that I only had about 2 years to work on it before I moved away to college. Lesson number one: Make it portable, because you never know when you might have to pick it up and move it.

Layout number 2 got me all the way through college. Looking back, it was a great learning experience. I think I’ve already recounted that here on this blog, so I won’t dwell on it.

As for layout number 3, well I’ve already hit many stumbling blocks. I guess the question is this: When you hit a stumbling block, do you continue on (often with a compromise), or do you tear it up and start over?

The responses in the Trainboard thread seemed to indicate that most other people follow my way of thinking: When I get stuck with something or it doesn’t turn out exactly the way I planned, I just keep on going. I’d rather not take the time to fix it if it means tearing up a lot of work in the process. Instead, I can file away that knowledge for future use—the inevitable layout number four.

I guess that almost sounds like you can settle for mediocrity, which is not exactly what I mean. But given the choice between spending hours ripping something up and re-doing it and just living with it (as long as it is not a show-stopper), I’d rather just live with it.

I’m don’t think I’ve really communicated my idea very clearly in this post…I will have to give it some thought and re-visit this topic in the future.

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