Proofs are cruel

I’m onto my draft thesis corrections now, and if there are sentiments that ring true at this point of time, it comes from Zadie Smith from her book of essays, Changing My Mind, where she talks about receiving proofs:

Proofs are so cruel! Breeding lilacs out of the dead land, mixing memory and desire, stirring dull roots with spring rain. Proofs are the wasteland where the dream of your novel dies and cold reality asserts itself. When I look at loose-leaf proofs, fresh out of the envelope, bound with a thick elastic band, marked up by a conscientious copy editor, I feel quite sure I would have to become a different person entirely to do the work that needs to be done here. To correct what needs correcting, fix what needs to be fixed. The only proper response to an envelope full of marked-up pages is “Give it back to me! Let me start again!” But no one says this because by this point exhaustion has set in. It’s not the book you hoped for, maybe something might yet be done — but the will is gone. There’s simply no more will to be had.

I came back to my draft and my 35+ tabs on a spreadsheet that I prepared especially to track down to-do lists for my thesis. If there are anything I should be thankful at this moment, they are my tendency to overdocument and my sense of overpreparedness. I was looking through the draft to be amended and I thought of checking a tab where I had listed down the references for all journals with more than three authors that I had mistakenly in-text cited them as just et al.s (if you must know, for APA format you must cite all these authors by their last names for first time mentions, then et al. for the next mentions onwards). I was worried that I had to find these names all over again throughout the thesis. But I was delighted to find in that very tab, I had listed down all the references for the journals, complete with the correct format of citations, sections name and numbers, and page numbers. Once again, my overpreparedness saved me the headache for another day’s inconveniences.

Last week, this thread made it round, and imploded around Twitter. There were many conversations about how ’emotional labour’ should not be framed to when it’s a conversation between two friends, as it was said to be defined as “the process of managing feelings and expressions to fulfill the emotional requirements of a job.” Friends are not jobs, and it was said that it was selfish to send a templated response to a friend who is struggling and wants to talk. This situation is complicated, and I have been on both sides — previously I was always the friend who would pick up calls even though I myself was already running out of spoons, and also of whose boundaries were always violated because I never said no. Post-burnout, I decided to assess my emotional situation first before I could help others, as I could be of service better to my friends if I am mentally equipped. Of course, this does not apply to emergencies, and clearly there is no black and white interpretation, so we could always play by ear. There is still definitely a lot more to be unpacked here — devoid of context it might sound that the thread owner is selfish — but I still am a big fan of setting up boundaries so I can be a better friend to my friends.

Some related, some not:

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