How I Lost Five Hours Yesterday


One of the things that I didn’t miss in academia was Kate Turabian. I know the lady has been dead a long time, but her work with the Chicago Manual of Style – or the student version that I was using during grad school – continues on. I think it has now moved to the seventh edition. Although quite useful in a number of respects, I never could quite figure out where to go and would spend hours bringing myself to a utter state of lunacy.

Although I understand the importance of sourcing one’s findings and the necessity of it, I think that I just wish that there was a standard that was easily recognizable. Go to chapter 1. See footnote. Go to chapter 2. See endnote. Which was essentially what I was trying to find yesterday. Having not worked with endnotes, I hoped that they were as I remembered them, like footnotes, but at the end of a paper. But, as I looked at recently published work, I saw that there were “notes” and that within the chapter, one would find references. I was taught that this was ugly and inappropriate and that we were moving away from such sourcing so I didn’t bother to learn the subtle nuances.

Given that the paper that I am submitting for the L.M.M. proceedings publication requires me to submit endnotes and a bibliography, I figured that it would be easy enough to find the correct layout for endnotes (hopefully similar to that of footnotes) and just take all of the footnotes that I’ve carefully used up until this point and put them at the back. But Turabian got me.

Around and around I went. Reading the same paragraph over and over again. Tricking myself into a false sense of completion only to find myself right back at the beginning and screaming “I KNOW THAT!” I found the actual Chicago Manual of Style Online which seemed a little more helpful. But, my original question/assumption was never answered.

I ended up calling a good friend who calmed me down and told me that I wasn’t crazy or stupid for not knowing and that he would be making the same assumptions. So, going with that, I returned to the endnotes to tweak a few.

I couldn’t let it go. I went crazy for about five hours there. And, in the end, got absolutely no writing done. This is when I think my perfectionist (or perhaps the lunatic within) got the better of me. Or, was I just sufficiently procrastinating to avoid editing. I’ve done stranger things in other parts of my life to avoid things. Perhaps this was a grand drama to avoid writing?

Whatever it was. I have placed Turabian back on the shelf and have ordered a new Chicago Manual of Style (the real one this time) and I am going to focus on the writing today.

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About Melanie J. Fishbane

My novel, MAUD: A Novel Inspired by the Life of L.M. Montgomery was published in 2017 through Penguin Random House on April 25, 2017. I hold an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from the Vermont College of Fine Arts. Here I talk about my writing process, things I love, and creative people who inspire me.
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