riting about real people (living people (living people who can get pissed at you and give you a sock on the nose)) is always tricky. Unless you are writing a political rag with a fiery agenda, you’ve got to have a care towards those you write about.
I reflected on this today while driving home, considering how I’d blog up the TY&E railroad session I’d just run on. You see, besides writing about writing, I write about model train operations. Every session I attend, I blog. Some of the blogs are closely followed by their owners. So, the question is, what do you do when you are at a session and electrical faults knock the layout down. The owner has just suffered a mortal blow, and now you are going to blog about it?
Two cases: I was at one guys layout up in Asheville, a gigantic railroad. About 3/4s of the way through, something when ZAP , smoke billowed up, and the layout was dead. End of session. I’d had some other problems (problems I solved by myself, thanks) so I wrote about that and left the whole dead-layout thing out. It’s carried HERE.
But today I was at a session where the electronics failed for about fifteen minutes. We tried this, we tried that, we did everything. Finally, in the words of the IT Crowd, “we tried shutting it off and on again”. And that worked. And this time, my blog was all about that, as you can see HERE.
So why would I recount one layout owner’s struggle and omit another? Good question.
I think in the first, I was more of a guest. I didn’t know the guy and felt that the rules of hospitality extended beyond my visit. I don’t think he’d have been mortified if I’d mentioned it, but it just didn’t feel right. I went with my gut and just chatted about my experiences with top-heavy trailer cars.
In the second, JW (the owner) is a friend. I helped him set up his timetable and we’ve worked over many layout problems (the final N-trak show at Deland, that nine-hour epic setup, comes to mind). There, I feel like I’ve got more leeway with him, that I can josh him a bit about his startup problems and he’d understand.
So there will come times (if you blog) that you will need to decide what you are going to cover and what you are going to omit. Just remember, one rule does not fit all.