The Daily 'List' Fix
Modelling is a mass of contradictions. A long awaited kit is released the thrill of opening the box, fondling the plastic and admiring the potential of the kit. You can hardly wait to build it. Then, somewhere along the road to a completed model something happens. Available time, your own skill level, the kit's inherent buildability and your vision of what the finished product should look like come together. Sometimes it looks as though it's less of a coming together and more of thirty car pile up. For any one of the above reasons you start having problems with the kit. All of a sudden you're in "throw it at the wall" territory a noisy place littered with the sounds of "arrgh" and various other words depending on the level of frustration.
If you believed the myth that modelling is a solitary hobby, at this point you would (unless you were very disciplined) go off and "find a kit that I can build just for a break and come back to this one later". Months later the kit is still languishing on the workbench waiting to be finished and getting back to it just gets worse and worse.
However modelling is not a solitary hobby at all. The actual process of building a model is usually an individual thing (although there are people out there who model in groups) but the hobby has many more sides to it than that. Most modellers are a cheerful bunch of people who are happy to talk about their hobby to someone who appreciates the hobby or who wants to learn more about it. Nowhere is this more noticeable than on the net. There are message boards, newsgroups and best yet, mailing lists.
Mailing lists are great because they are usually genre oriented. When I joined the WW1 list I was stunned. First by the amount of people all discussing one of my favourite subjects (I knew of only three others in the whole country) and by the sheer helpfulness and camaraderie that a good list has. The figures list is great for all figure fans - particularly those interested in garage kits and while I may be biased, I like the Ship Modeling Mailing List (SMML) my husband looks after that one :-)
When you are stuck with something a quick question to the list will usually get you more than one way of doing something from those who have already faced the problem in that kit and overcome it. Add to that the discussions of obscure points of colour, opinions of kits both old and new and the humour which always seems to peek through from certain listmembers and you have a very addictive mix.
I love mailing lists. They can help you over a modelling bad patch, keep you in touch with what's happening in the hobby and as most good lists are attached to a website where listmembers can show their models, keep you inspired. Best yet, they keep modelling fun.