Human beings have a lot of skin. I mean, a whole lot of it. As it happens, I have a bit more than your average bloke on the street, partly because I’m taller than average ,but mostly because I’m… well, wider than average.
Anyhow, we’ve got a lot of skin, and our skin is feeling a lot of stuff pretty much all of the time. And most of the time we don’t even notice it.
But if you want to find out just how much your skin is feeling all the time, all you really have to do is find one bug on your person. Just one. Maybe it’s a caterpillar that dropped into your hair as you were passing under an old oak tree. Maybe it’s a beetle that was passing by and decided to land, just for a moment, on your arm or the nape of your neck. Maybe, if you’re fast enough and have good enough vision, it’s a flea that was lying in wait as you happened to walk past some poor mutt.
Whatever it is, once you find one of them, your body goes on alert. Next thing you know you’re getting information about EVERYTHING that could POSSIBLY be another insect on you.
Occasionally it’s actually in insect. Most of the time, though, it’s not. It might be a tiny sliver of grass that’s stuck to you, or a thread that’s hanging off your shirt and brushing against your skin. Or it could be the wind catching the hair on your arm and tugging it just so.
You could go days without even checking to see if you’ve got a mosquito on you, but the second you catch one, you’ll spend the next four hours checking yourself every twenty seconds.
I recently sent a manuscript out to a bunch of my beta readers, and now, thanks to years and years of experience, I know that I cannot check that manuscript until I have at least half of them back. Because if I find one thing wrong, one misspelling, one piece of bad grammar, one wrong comma, I will be spending every waking minute from now until I get those copies back searching for anything that could possibly be wrong in my manuscript. And I’ll be e-mailing all of my beta readers with up to the minute updates. “Found another comma splice, sorry about that folks.” “Crap, subject verb agreement problem on page 155!”
So even if I’m pretty sure, pretty damned sure, that I forgot to take care of something in the last chapter, that I left a tiny little plot point open that I meant to shut, I cannot, cannot, cannot actually go fix it. Not yet.
No, I have to accept the itch. Just endure it. Endure it just a little while longer…