I stumbled across Travis McGee, John D. MacDonald‘s amateur sleuth, in the mid 1980s. It instantly became my favorite series for several reasons, some of which I understand and some of which I don’t. (I’m reading the books, in order, for the third time. Why? Partly because I love them. Partly because this appears to be a rare series I can read while working on my own fiction. Partly to figure out what works and what doesn’t.)
Anyway, I’m up to book nine, Pale Gray for Guilt. It contains this bit of wisdom from Meyer, who is McGee’s best friend and the closest thing he’s got to a sidekick. (Meyer’s first name is virtually never used, which makes it easy to confuse him with Meyer Meyer – yes, that’s his full name – a detective in Ed McBain‘s 87th Precinct series, another favorite of mine. Mired in Meyers, I am.)
Meyer tells another character:
“In all emotional conflicts, dear girl, the thing you find the hardest to do is the thing you should do.”
Pretty sage, eh? Odd though it may be to learn interpersonal skills from a fictional flatfoot’s sidekick, I’ve remembered and applied this thought for 20-plus years now.