Railroad Model Craftsman arrived on Friday. I haven’t even finished reading the last one, and to be honest, I don’t know if I ever will. It’s been drowning in the pile of books beside my bed for weeks now, occasionally thrusting out a feeble page when I resurrect the book atop, but sinking ever lower.
By contrast, I devour every issue of Model Railway Journal. I even read the letters, well most of them. This month’s cover story was about a 7 mm finescale model set in England’s scenic equivalent to Saskatchewan. The layout is fifteen feet long and admits only half a dozen turnouts, and yet, the article extends to nineteen pages with 22 photographs (only five of which include locomotives). Needless to say, the modelling and photography is topnotch – this is MRJ.
More to the point I enjoyed reading it for two nights.
I can’t recall the last time I read an article in the North American modelling press that I found entertaining, and I have to include my own in that list. Oh sure, some of them are informative, and most articles contain at least one good idea, which is usually enough to get me to slog through them. But to be honest, the articles are about as entertaining as shopping lists for vegans.
We’re not dull people here in Canada and the United States (well, in the US, at least – we Canadians have a certain reputation to live up to). Why is it that when we get around to putting pen to paper, we lose our authentic voices, and assume a detached tone?
What’s more, when we do aim for humour, we get it wrong! Humorous articles in the North American press tend toward sarcasm, which falls flat in written form. When we’re not being sarcastic, we’re alluding to a story without telling it: “Don’t ask me how I know” is not uncommon in the press. I bet many of these are actually very entertaining stories in which we could all see ourselves; how about telling them?
I can’t promise that you’ll enjoy my next article in the June issue of Model Railroad Hobbyist, or even this one, but I’m going to make more of an effort from now on.