Stress in the work
May 31th, 2023
Some time back, I penned an essay for a collective book, and today I received feedback from the editors. Among other things, they asked for a reference from Enzo Traverso, the renowned Italian historian. Traverso is known for his valuable contributions to the study of collective memory and, more recently, his defense of history as an academic discipline distinct from memory.
To keep all my references organized and readily accessible, I created folders in Zotero. So naturally, I headed straight to the folder corresponding to the essay I submitted, eager to locate the elusive Traverso reference. My search turned up empty. I scoured my entire computer, employing various keywords and even racking my brain to recall where I might have stumbled upon that quote. Was it from an obscure article or perhaps an interview? I even resorted to multiple keyword searches on Google. No luck.
After a long and exhausting pursuit, I was drained and gripped by stress. I reached out to a couple of colleagues more familiar with Traverso's work. Regrettably, no one could provide any leads on the source of that elusive quote. Ultimately, I made the difficult decision to excise it from the essay, along with the whole paragraph. Fortunately, I don't believe its absence significantly affected the essay's overall quality. Removing it seemed the best course of action.
Yet, despite this resolution, I couldn't shake off the nagging anxiety. Did I conjure up that quote in my mind? Doubting myself, especially concerning matters integral to my professional work, is truly disconcerting.
Some years ago, I deleted some folders from my computer containing information about Zacatecas in 1832. It has been challenging to come to terms with the fact that during the depths of my depression, I sabotaged my own work.
However, thanks to the editors' feedback this time, I was able to rectify the problem. I thoroughly reviewed the rest of the essay and discovered that all the other references were meticulously sourced. Going forward, I vow to exercise utmost care and attention to detail.
I hope that putting these thoughts into words will alleviate some of the distressing emotions I have been experiencing.