Thursday, February 10, 2011

My Evil Twin

By Michael

I have a reasonably high sense of myself, but I know my limits; and when I don’t recognize them plenty of people around me are quick to remind me of them. So, if I were to sing praises about anyone, I would sing not about myself but about my fictional PI, Joe Kozmarski.

In short, he’s more of a man than I am. He’s six feet tall to my five feet ten. He tips the scale at two hundred pounds, and I weigh one sixty-five. He has a full head of hair, and I have this weird tonsure thing going. He has admirable abs, and I have one nice ab, I think, though I’m having a hard time finding it. He has two lovers (but wishes for just one). I have one lover (but wish for . . . no, no, no: I’m more than happy with the one I have).

Our weight differential pretty much sums up our relationship. Two hundred to a hundred sixty-five. Very roughly, he’s twenty percent more of a man than I am. And it’s the twenty percent that makes a difference – that little extra that enables him to stand back up and solve crimes when I would be down for the count.

But – and this is where I find some consolation – his twenty percent is both for good and bad. It may be true that while I run a couple of miles each day, he often runs four or five, and that while I pass out around two in the morning, he keeps going until dawn. But it’s also true that while I like a glass of good bourbon, he loves a glass of bourbon (good, bad, or indifferent) and then another and then another. If my occasional irresponsibility endangers myself, his endangers himself, all of his loved ones, and more than a few innocent bystanders. If I have bad habits, he has worse.

Would I want to be like him? Would I want to do the things he does? Only in my best dreams and worst nightmares.

16 comments:

Sue Ann Jaffarian said...

This week's question is great and I can't wait to post on Sunday. I'm learning so much about my fellow Criminal Minds this week. Me thinks we all have a bit of the Walter Mitty thing going on. And, Michael, nice catch on the lover thing.

Michael Wiley said...

Thanks, Sue Ann. It's great to have you here with us! I'm looking forward to Sunday.

When push comes to shove, I have to admit that my PI has very little in common with "real" people (even if, I hope, his thoughts and actions feel "real"). The keys, for me, are story, story, story-appropriate character, and story: any other characteristics don't belong.

Meredith Cole said...

We like you just the way you are, Michael! IMHO, evil twins are much more fun to read about then hang out with.

Michael Wiley said...

I think you're entirely right, Meredith. These people are better fictional characters than actual family members or friends.

One of the highest compliments that I've received came from a woman who said she wanted to marry my PI, Joe Kozmarski. But when she told me this, I also thought, A marriage to him would probably be a very bad idea.

Lois Winston said...

I think all novelists have a bit of the Walter Mitty thing going for them. It's so much safer to live vicariously through our characters than actually do the things they do. Great post, Michael!

Michael Wiley said...

Thanks, Lois. I'm sure you're right.

I remember a conversation that I had in college about whether writers should experience everything they write about or just observe and imagine it. The answer probably is somewhere between the extremes, tending toward observing and imagining. The world would be an even more messed-up place than it is if we all practiced what we wrote about.

Rebecca Cantrell said...

Great post, Michael!

We've all talked about the cool things our characters do, but there is definitely a downside.

We like your lower bourbon consumption rate better than Joe's (well, I do).

Michael Wiley said...

Thanks, Rebecca. The downside interests me as much as the upside. Sure, it would be great to be Superman, but it would really suck to be allergic to kryptonite.

Reece said...

You're definitely right, Michael, a little excess is good for characters, but not so good for writers. I, for one, am impressed that you run a couple of miles each day! Nice post!

Sorry to lose you on the Saturday shift, but I know that Gary Phillips is going be a great addition to our gang.

Graham Brown said...

Great post Michael. How is it our heroes have all the time to get great abs, two lovers and drink lots of burbon?

Jeannie Holmes said...

Graham, it's called "fiction." :)

Great post, Michael. I, too, am impressed you run a couple of miles a day. Most of my exercise comes from trying not to trip over the cats.

Michael Wiley said...

Putting in a couple of miles on foot is my alternative to drinking a couple of bourbons at night. I'm intrigued by the romanticized image of writers: i.e. that we're all hard-drinking ne'er-do-wells. Ne'er-do-wells, maybe, but hard drinking? No more than forty or fifty percent of us.

I'll miss alternating Saturdays with you, Reece, but am glad that you'll be in such great company.

Michael Wiley said...

Thanks, Graham. I figure they spend less time changing the oil in their cars, driving the kids to and from school, reading, watching movies, etc., etc. And definitely less time sleeping.

Michael Wiley said...

Thanks, Jeannie. If fingers could develop abs, we'd all be in great shape with all the typing we do.

Cat avoidance is good too. I figure that's worth at least a mile.

Gabi said...

You undersell yourself greatly. I'm sure you have at least two abs although I'd have to check to make abs-olutely sure.

Michael Wiley said...

I appreciate your confidence in me, Gabi. It's true that I DID have two abs, but one of them was stolen from my gym locker while I was showering.