It was my son's birthday party today, and it was glorious seeing six little toddlers playing together and only occasionally toppling over each other. Now, you might think it would be a bit crazy having that many toddlers roaming around, but you would be forgetting that they each brought on average two adults with them.
So what we in fact had was a loosely organised herd: the parents helped and looked after whatever child wandered up to them in search of cake or assistance getting up stairs. It was very pleasant being in the company of people who you can trust to feed, cuddle or discipline your child as necessary if you're otherwise engaged. I've always found the saying "it takes a village to raise a child" very twee, but I do agree with it. It's also quite a lot of fun being part of the child-rearing village.
I don't know if it necessarily takes a village to finish a thesis as such, but it does take a village to keep a thesis-writer from spiralling into self-doubt and forsaking personal hygiene.
I've been preparing for my upcoming thesis submission (Monday!), and I've become very aware of my thesis-village. Many people have congratulated me on my impending submission by email or in person and have shown genuine delight in me reaching this milestone. I've been the recipient of a bucketload of goodwill.
For example, when I suddenly decided I could do with some fresh eyes playing spot-the-typo with my work, three friends agreed to help me out at the last minute.They soldiered through it in the face of illness, work and, you know, whatever it is that people normally do of an evening. Not only did they complete the task on a tight schedule, but they also delighted me with such friendly encouragement as "you are a muthaeffing genius", offered to deliver their comments with a croissant, and enthused that it is time we "submit this mofo". (Brooke, Laurie and Danica: you are the best.)
I really don't believe in the line about thesis-writing being lonely work. Solitary certainly, but not lonely. Not with a village.