Sometimes irritation grows pearls. Mostly irritation just grows. I’m well aware of it at the moment, for various bureaucratic reasons. To give a slightly more tangible example, I dive, mostly for spiny lobsters, and to shoot fish and collect abalone. Our water here is really cold to spend a long time in, outside of hottest time of the year (when it can get up to about 20 c / 68F, in sheltered bays – and about 2 degrees cooler at the depth we dive at) and even then you would probably spend time in measured in minutes, rather than 4-6 hours. It’ll get down to 11c/52F on the surface in August. A wetsuit starts to become an essential, and a good one a serious blessing. I have an excellent one made by Probe – 7mm hooded jacket, and 9mm long-john. It was a present, a thank-you gift from a dear friend. It is the best suit I’ve ever owned, and the first new one I have had for a long time. All our money has gone into saving for a home of our own, so this too was ‘paint it blue and make it do’ -and I was pretty blue when I got out the water.

The only trouble is it’s getting old – about 5-6 years I think, and the rubber is no longer quite as thick or warm. But the worst is the fabric coating is just starting to rub off behind the knees, making tiny little bumps… And it has to be skin-tight.

Which you’re barely aware of when you put it on, just noticeable when you’re plunging down into the cold to thirty feet or so… and it doesn’t get better from there. Look, this is absorbing, needing 100% of my concentration (both for dangers – I’ve encountered sharks, stingrays, been stuck in underwater caves, had my air cut off, been caught in very strong currents, and also because finding and catching spiny lobsters needs pretty much all your focus). You stop noticing non-essentials. It’s a great way to clear my mind of all the hassles. It stops me focusing on anything but the dive. I forget my troubles, I don’t even think of books (I can get really, really vague in the last third of a book I am writing, because there is only so much processing power available.)

Except… the chafing behind my knees. It just got steadily worse. To the point where each kick was an exercise of will. No, it was not agony. Just sore and making me notice it – to the point I wasn’t doing the other things I need to do, properly. I went into a cave, narrow an dark – a ‘you can’t turn around cave` -come out backwards or not at all (and God help you if your air stops) because it is a straight shaft, and then 90 degree turn and then 5 yards along. Normally, I’d have been a nervous nelly, and said ‘too tight’. But we needed one more and I could get out, get the wetsuit OFF.

So I went in, and shone my torch down, and I could see the spiky shape of a lobster at the back. So I went in and scruffed him. And believe it or not I was in such discomfort that I was paying attention to my knees, and the lobster, and getting out as soon as possible, and… knocked the regulator out of my mouth against the wall. Didn’t lose it completely, thank goodness, still had one edge in my teeth. but couldn’t breathe. I somehow managed to shove it back into mouth,and without losing the lobster… went past my exit hole – it was a long tunnel, with the shaft about midway (now, my air hose is out of it – all I have to do is follow the hose – behind me in a space I can’t turn around in, back).

It’s dark, I’m holding a torch – which chose just then to get its switch bumped off and not want to come back on, and I can’t fiddle because I have a 5 pound struggling lobster in the other hand, and all I can think about… is the chafing my knees. Anyway, the water is stirred up murk but I could vaguely see a brighter patch where the hose yellow caught what light came down the shaft and I kicked my way out, swearing at my knees with each stroke. My dive buddy was hovering – not a lot he could do, there was barely room for me, let alone two of us – and I pushed the lobster into the bag, and pointedly signaled ‘surface’.

We had to decompress a while at 10 feet – and I’m wondering if I can get my fins and booties off while we wait…

Anyway, back on the boat and I had the relief of getting the irritation to end. It’s not exactly anything to make a fuss about – a pair of raw weals behind my knees. No big deal. Barely notice it with the wetsuit off. But I’m going to have to buy another long-john, which as the bureaucrats are determined to spend all my money on utter worthless rubbish, and I need to keep it for that, means I really really need to sell a reasonable number of copies of CLOUD-CASTLES, when it comes out next month.

The point I’m trying to make is that minor irritation, not relieved becomes major irritation – to the extent that it can override anything, even common sense (I think we’re starting to see this, a lot, with some of the stupider government moves, here, across Europe, and the US). This is true, and very true of books. The problem – for the author, is that irritation – and the reaction to it, tends -at best – to be ‘stop reading’. At worst it means ‘stop reading anything that author wrote’.

Look, different things grate on different people, but 1)it doesn’t take much, and repetition doesn’t make it go away (a wrong caliber did it for me – every time repeated just got worse, instead of me getting used to it.) 2)You can’t – obviously – please everyone. But because repetition it is worth really checking on anything that will get repeated often.

Image: By Schaferle via Pixabay

15 thoughts on “Irritation

    1. Sending cash across international boundaries can be full of legal pitfalls.
      At very least, lawyers would need to be consulted.

        1. If you were to, say, put up several short stories for ridiculous prices, say $9.99, you’d get 70%, and have to pay income taxes and so forth, but that might be the least legally tangled way for your foreign fans to get you the funds to keep you from drowning, and maybe enough to ease the pain your local government is inflicting on you.

  1. Get a thing or even a few “wrong” (varies from slight ooops to That’s not likely to happen) and I might can bypass it, but repeated “Um, no, they don’t work that way.” and especially “You’ve never done that or talked to anyone who has, have you?” will drive me out of a story right quick. Two different stories from the same author and one I keep reading, because the wrongs were minor and really not vital to the story. The other started with nonsense, I tried to ignore, then became worse and worse but I forced my way through three books, well two and most of the third. I hit a wall of things I have personal knowledge of (motorcycles, firearms) and apparently far more knowledge than the writer (military training and abilities, even in non-USA militaries), that I could not go on with the story. Okay, dumb luck might allow you to find a rifle in a car in Oxford, England and it might be in .308 Winchester, but not bloody likely (Now Oxford, Mississippi on the other hand . . .) Also, Sorta got it right that a .223/5.56 is going to take more than one round to kill a large beast, but the particular beast is not going to go down from a single .308 either and a similar beast is not going down at all from multiple mags of 5.56, and certainly not just a few shots of same.. Not with hunting ammo, bub. And no one, certainly not a 130 pound female, is pushing 700 pounds of police motorcycle a half mile on dirt as easily as pushing a bicycle! Might as well have went with “Uphill, both ways, in the snow!”

  2. Re: sending cash across international boundaries
    I use PayPal to send money to the Philippines on a regular basis. They give a good conversion rate, and the fee is trivial. And I’d much rather send a few bucks now AND order the book than read an obituary notice.
    In this case, at least.

  3. When it got cold enough, I waterskied in a dry suit – one can wear comfy sweats under it, or a sweater, for that matter. I don’t think that would work for diving – too much air gets captured inside; one wouldn’t sink without a lot of weight and changes in orientation would move the air around. But, surely, they make something like that for diving. 58 is pretty chilly for a wet suit, even if one is very well hydrated before getting in.
    I skied off the edge of lake ice, once, just to say I’ve done it. Way too cold to have fun.

  4. Get a replacement. Period. You came close there Dave, and you know it. We can help, and are more than willing to.

    1. There’s a link to Dave’s PayPal on his website. 😉 I’m not willing to wait for a stubborn independent person to finally admit a helping hand wouldn’t hurt.

  5. Well Dave, as I’ve told you before, you publish it, and I’ll buy it. Pretty simple that. However, you do worry me when you tell such stories. Perhaps an elastic bandage around the knees so that the rough part doesn’t get to the skin? Some other covering to fix that? When kayaking in very cold water, I do wear thermal long johns under the wet suit. Seems to help me. Not sure it would work in your situation. Be careful out there.

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