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DesDownunder

'The Invitation' moved from Flash Fiction

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Inspired by discussion in another thread.

I think Camy's references to tense is very important.

POV is only one of the tools to signify the form of the story.

we are all familiar with those stories that are little more than a diary entry.

I woke up when the alarm went off this morning. I padded to the bathroom and did my business.

I resisted giving special attention to my aching areas of temptation.

I wanted to look good today so I chose my nicest clothes to impress that special someone.

When I reached the the kitchen my mother was cooking my breakfast which I ate and then I left the house to catch the school bus so that I would not be late.

This becomes only slightly more interesting in 3rd person.

He awoke to the sound of his alarm. He padded to the bathroom where he did his morning business.

He avoided the temptations of his body parts that ached for his special attention.

He chose the clothes that he thought would give him the best chance to be noticed by that someone special.

His mother dutifully slaved away at the stove to prepare his breakfast, which he ate. Afterwards he left the house to catch the school bus.

It would serve no good purpose for him to be late.

Both these examples hold little interest for the reader. They have been written many times in many stories. They come to an abrupt end with little hope for the author to want to pursue the story himself let alone the reader.

Now try applying a little imagination with present tense and first person once removed. (This is not a Pulitzer Prize winning example by the way)

It wasn't that he couldn't remember when the alarm clock sounded, it went off everyday at the same time. This particular morning was different. Not that it was my morning, it wasn't. It was his morning, his day. He told me about it sometime later after we met.

My morning was much more involved than his. All he had to do was pee, shave, shower, and brush his teeth. I chuckled as he told me how he had abstained from enjoying his shower too much. Something I rarely did myself, because there was never enough time or hot water in my house.

I had to rummage around my room to find the cleanest clothes to wear. He had only to choose a style, a fashion that he thought would make him appear attractive. He succeeded.

Our breakfasts were very different. He had one. I didn't. His mother cooked his breakfast. My mother no longer recognised the kitchen as a viable source of nutrients, but this story is not about my mother or me for that matter.

This is a story about a young man who I observed briefly when I started highschool. I watched him progress through the school. I noticed him as a freshman on that first day he stepped off the bus. I had walked to school and was waiting for the doors to open. He stepped off the bus, walked up the steps into the building. The doors seemed to open for him, just for him.

I don't even know now why I found him so interesting. In time I would meet him. In reality, I knew I didn't exist in his world.

We didn't actually meet for some years.

We had somehow avoided speaking to each other in the six years we spent at the highschool. All I knew was his name was Paul.

Now some seven years later, I opened a letter from the highschool old scholars' association.

There was to be a special celebration for the founding of South Australia's Highschool system in 1908.

The Adelaide High School Old Scholars' Association

Has much pleasure in inviting

David Clayton

To a special reunion on

Wednesday, September 24th 2008

Followed by a dance on Saturday 27th,

to celebrate the anniversary of the first free highschool in South Australia.

It was also the day I would meet Paul.

"David?" he called out to me, "You are David Clayton, aren't you?"

"Yes," I replied, "that's me."

"Great," he said, "I thought it was you."

"You...you recognised me?"

"Of course," he told me.

A few minutes later I awoke and looked into his eyes full of concern.

"Are you okay?" he asked.

I had fainted. He had invited me to go to the reunion dance on Saturday night as his date.

That was nearly a month ago. He says we have the chance of a lifetime of happiness together.

Okay now the point of that small story was to show that simply by transferring the tense and the POV away from Paul as first person to David as a (participating) observer, a story managed to come out of it. The first two examples were going nowhere fast.

Footnote: If they did have a celebration the Adelaide Highschool did not invite me to it, the lousy ^#%&*s.

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I can think of a few mainstream writers of my youth who were masters of that particular POV: Somerset Maugham and Nevil Shute (Norway). What they lent the tale they were telling, by using such a voice, was a heightened sense of investment. I think it may lead the reader to think, perhaps subconsciously, that if the narrator is that interested in this other person, then perhaps I should be as well. Thus a sense of commitment to the story is provided straightaway.

James

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I can think of a few mainstream writers of my youth who were masters of that particular POV: Somerset Maugham and Nevil Shute (Norway). What they lent the tale they were telling, by using such a voice, was a heightened sense of investment. I think it may lead the reader to think, perhaps subconsciously, that if the narrator is that interested in this other person, then perhaps I should be as well. Thus a sense of commitment to the story is provided straightaway.

James

You win the cigar James.

I actually had Somerset Maugham's The Razor's Edge in mind when writng the post. LOL

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Guest Brandon T.

That made my head spin. =o I'm not quite sure what to think about it, actually. I felt like my head was being pulled in two different directions at all times. And any time when I didn't feel that way, I was worried about things shifting abruptly and my perception of events being snatched from beneath my feet. I don't know if I could read a story written in that way. It sets you on edge, makes you paranoid. It wasn't even until about half-way through that I realized it was being told as a retelling and you had access into the boy's life via what he told you. And then things just got muddled after that brief moment of clarity.

A chaotic, frenzied mix of first and third person that ultimately left me feeling confused. I dunno. I think I like plain vanilla in this case. One or the other.

ACTUALLY. I know what was so disconcerting. The unabashed, side-by-side comparisons of their lives. There was something unnerving and unsettling about describing someone else's life when you're working out of first person with such detail. It felt awkward and confusing and the rapid back and forth, as I said above, was kind of disorienting. I felt as if I was being thrust in one direction and then jerked abruptly to somewhere else to look at something and then pushed back in the other direction look at that.

The whole way down, I was thinking, "How could you possibly know that?" And it was confusing and a little scary. Skeptical and dizzy. That's how I felt reading it. I think it was a strange way to use first person. I'm not quite sure how I feel about it.

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I reacted rather differently than Brandon. Yes, the story lulls you into a false sense of security, presenting the action from one point of view and then without warning yanking you away and you see the next bit from a completely different point of view, and yes, that is momentarily disconcerting, even disorientating. But I enjoyed that. Like a fairground ride, it made me smile.

Almost any video programme, whether film or television, uses the same technique these days. One camera angle cuts to a different camera angle repeatedly, every few seconds throughout the programme. Why? Because it keeps the viewer's interest, because using more than one point of view enables the programme maker to give the viewer more information than could be delivered from a single point of view. And we all accept it without demur (although some old codgers like me think it's occasionally overdone) and are used to it. Perhaps we're not so used to the same technique used on paper. But it is used for the same reasons - it gives the author the ability to present more information than he can from a single point of view. And so it becomes a larger than life experience, because life is experienced through one pair of eyes, one point of view.

We're all different, I'm glad to say. Brandon and I like different styles of writing, I guess. I expect there are lots of other tastes we have in common, though. Maybe one day we could explore what they are? That might be fun!

Bruin :hehe:

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Nevil Shute (Norway)

James

Do I recognise a fellow nerd? How geeky is it to know that Nevil Shute's real name was Nevil Norway, Shute being his middle name? And that his day job was helping to design Britain's airships, the R100 and R101? And that he wrote a book about his experience and the failure of the project, under his real name?

I reckon as chairman and secretary, that I should use my privileges to award James honorary membership to the 'Gay Geeks Anonymous' society.

The next meeting is to be held at the Hare and Hounds Tuesday evening. Bring your own anorak.

Bruin :hehe:

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Guest Brandon T.

THAT'S IT, BRUIN. :hehe: It felt familiar, but I couldn't quite put my finger on it. I don't know if I'm a fan of that technique being applied to writing or if it's just this particular instance of it. In film, it's different because it shows the person going about their daily routine, and it has a voice-over of the Narrator delivering things from their POV. In that case, it works, because you've established what's going on and it's not so immediately off-putting ( I hate that word, off-putting, but anyhoo) and disorienting. But here, there's no difference between what's being narrated and what's going on. There's not that nice little separation between audio and visual that I like and so I was thrown off.

BUT. Yes. Different tastes and different opinions make the world go 'round. =D I'm sure we'll find something in common, Bruin. We seem to keep bumping into each other in these threads. We'll end up agreeing in the end on SOMETHING.

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I'd have liked it to have kept on going!

... and so would I. I thought it was a very promising start to what could become a fascinating story. So what about it, Des? You've got nothing else to do - we all know you live in a Greek temple, waited on hand and foot by bronzed attendants who peel and pip your grapes for you before feeding them to you!

Maybe Cole and I should start a pressure group. Ooh, I can feel the pressure building up already!

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One of the things that I really like about our discussions is that you can think you are going to share some insight you think is worthwhile or even just interesting, but then it all somehow changes when everyone decides to have their own opinion. :hehe:

Now I find I am in an unusual position, for me, of having to defend those films that use fast editing, hand held camera shots and cinematography that just gets in the way of telling a good (or bad) story.

The number of times that particular filmic technique has worked for me personally, I can probably count on one hand. Yet the reason I dislike it, is not because it cannot be done to advantage, but that it is done so badly, so often.

Brandon obviously has found some difficulty with the written form, as I posted in my short story.

I remember having similar problems when I first came across a story that used the style. (There were others that confounded me also.) Being a patient fellow, I found that I could go back over the phrases, rereading the text until I appreciated what the author was trying to do.

In the film world this is not so easy to do. Often those close-ups are so close, so fast that the viewer just gives up, becomes disinterested, and sighs with relief when the crazy sparring with the camera dissolves into something more easily accessible or at least recognisable.

My years in the film world also revealed to me that great films do have complex images that make viewing possible over and over again, each time delivering something missed before, but the image is recognisable on the first viewing, even if it only becomes meaningful to the plot, later. The fact that there is even more to find on subsequent viewings does not detract from the initial appreciation of a good movie. Fast editing of indistinct images that are blurred and indecipherable, are not clever devices to tell a story if they make the audience feel disinterested. Good film-makers can do it, but not everybody will agree as to whom they are.

So I would maintain that the written word has an advantage, in that it can be reread, mulled over in the mind, to determine both form and content.

The written word can give a reader new experiences to consider through form. This form can be permitted to become very complicated simply because it can be reread, again and again, as and when the reader likes.

I found that discovering how to read a particular author, broadened my appreciation of both the form and the content of the text.

It even allowed me to know that some forms were not to my liking, but I could at least read them and understand their worth, if not their appeal.

We are so centred around writing for authors, that I wonder if we shouldn't have a thread to discuss the relationship of author and reader.

I would begin by saying I think it is necessary to encourage readers to know they can trust themselves to give everything they have to an author for the short time it takes to read a story. Let yourself go into the world of the author. If the story fails to grab you, that is fine. If it makes you think, enthralls you or simply entertains you, when you put the book down, you the reader can make up your mind how much it affects you. Any good story should encourage you to do that, even if not obviously.

I say this because I have at times been shocked by content. I have at times found the writing, 'difficult' to fathom. Generally these have been the challenges that have enriched my life by reading.

+++++++++++

As for being 'pressured' into extending the above story, please understand that I am pleased most of you seemed to like it and found some temptation to demand more. However, look at the title. It is called The Invitation. In fact there are two invitations in the story just to keep it interesting and the obvious invitation is not the one of the title. The story is in itself as complete as a short story can be. This is especially so when you consider it was only meant to serve as an example of style and form.

The fact that it sprung from the hackneyed first scene of the alarm clock awakening a character, would, I hope show, it is possible to adapt even mundane events by applying imagination, inspired by changing style and form.

I would be pleased to see people adopt the form (or even play with other forms) for some of their stories, and I have been toying with the idea myself for a much larger work utilising some of this style.

If only I had the time to relax my point of view and not be so tense.

:icon_twisted:

PS I haven't had my grapes peeled and pipped for eons. As for the bronzed attendants they left with each other for greener pastures.

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We are so centred around writing for authors, that I wonder if we shouldn't have a thread to discuss the relationship of author and reader.

Clearly, an author without readers especially without feedback from readers is an unfulfilling universe and devoid of support. Readers without an author who encourages feedback is also an arid place.

I agree with Des that perhaps another thread is needed or at least to be able to expand this one to include the needs of readership along with those or authorship.

I also think that the piece that Des offered as description of what voices can do for a story was instructive. I would hope that others could similarly post items the further the discussion around the uses of voices in supporting a story.

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I would begin by saying I think it is necessary to encourage readers to know they can trust themselves to give everything they have to an author for the short time it takes to read a story. Let yourself go into the world of the author. If the story fails to grab you, that is fine. If it makes you think, enthralls you or simply entertains you, when you put the book down, you the reader can make up your mind how much it affects you. Any good story should encourage you to do that, even if not obviously.

I say this because I have at times been shocked by content. I have at times found the writing, 'difficult' to fathom. Generally these have been the challenges that have enriched my life by reading.

As a writer, I want to evoke particular emotional responses in my readers. I want them to feel a particular way when they read chapter 8, and something else when they read the middle section of chapter 9. I want them to get the subtext of the story that I'm writing - the one liner that any story has as its basis (for instance, the subtext of HnH is: sometimes the honorable guys, and not the players, win. My take on The Scrolls of Icaria: How do people of honor respond to attempts at coercion?). Eventually, as I become a more accomplished author, I'd like to be able to create an entire mood or ambience for my readers, blending emotional responses and feelings into a complete picture...but I'm a long way from that now. Perhaps I'll get there someday. This, for me, is the goal that all the voice and pov and all the other tools at our disposal are to be used to work towards...the pov and voice of the work are used in a very deliberate way to evoke the response that one wants from that particular passage.

Of course, one wants to tell a ripping good story, too. If the reader isn't pulled in by the plotline, they're not going to stay around long enough to be able to feel what you want them to feel, right?

*reads back over what he wrote* Hmm...I have a keen grasp of the obvious, don't I? Well, never hurts to restate the basics, I guess. :hehe:

cheers!

aj

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As a writer, I want to evoke particular emotional responses in my readers. I want them to feel a particular way when they read chapter 8, and something else when they read the middle section of chapter 9. I want them to get the subtext of the story that I'm writing - the one liner that any story has as its basis (for instance, the subtext of HnH is: sometimes the honorable guys, and not the players, win. My take on The Scrolls of Icaria: How do people of honor respond to attempts at coercion?). Eventually, as I become a more accomplished author, I'd like to be able to create an entire mood or ambience for my readers, blending emotional responses and feelings into a complete picture...but I'm a long way from that now. Perhaps I'll get there someday. This, for me, is the goal that all the voice and pov and all the other tools at our disposal are to be used to work towards...the pov and voice of the work are used in a very deliberate way to evoke the response that one wants from that particular passage.

Of course, one wants to tell a ripping good story, too. If the reader isn't pulled in by the plotline, they're not going to stay around long enough to be able to feel what you want them to feel, right?

*reads back over what he wrote* Hmm...I have a keen grasp of the obvious, don't I? Well, never hurts to restate the basics, I guess. :hehe:

cheers!

aj

aj, I'm sure someone famous has already said that nothing is overlooked as much as the obvious. Therefore we should never mind hearing the obvious again and again. One of the reasons we shouldn't mind is because each time someone mentions their own discovery of the obvious, they do so in a different way. In your post above it is the passion that shines through, and it is expressed with the concise idea of investigating the characters' traits, motives and responses to situations in which they are placed.

What a marvellous thing to bring to the surface, to make obvious, for readers and other authors to discuss or just think about.

The aims of evoking a mood and realising that finding and using all the tools at the authors disposal helps to tell the story in a complete picture is I think, quite well worth restating.

Which I guess, I just did. :icon_twisted:

Rubilacxe's comment suggests to me, that I think as authors, we must be, carefully, mindful of finding our own voices, our own individual styles that help create the evocative ambience we desire.

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In an act that shows that not only are we so together at AD Forums, but great minds still do, what great minds have always done, Camy and I almost at the same time thought it would be better to continue this thread here at the Writer's Workshop. :hug:

We think it has some interesting stuff for writers (and also readers.) :aak[1]:

:biggrin:

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Which leaves me wondering just how someone actually wears a slide rule... :icon_twisted:

Marty (Good original post, btw, Des :icon_twisted: )

I'm sure you've heard the old groaner about the constipated math professor? No?

He worked it out with a pencil and a slide rule...

cheers!

aj

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My K&E came with a slick leather holster. In mid-twentieth century America you could identify any engineering student by the fact that he sported one of those strapped to his belt (unless of course it was covered by the shirtails of his hawaiian shirt.)

Nevil Shute Norway's autobiography, by the way, is entitled Sliderule.

James

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My granddad gave me his collection of slide rules. It's at home, and I haven't looked at them in a long time, but there was a K&E that was made of mahogany (I think) and ivory, a Post that was made of bamboo and ivory, an all-metal Pickett that was about 3" across and was yellow, and a circular slide rule. There are others as well.

Colin :icon_twisted:

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This is where computers have advanced our opportunities as individuals.

A sliderule was out of the question for many of my generation. Their use and existence was restricted to engineering students and professionals on a need to know basis.

Yet today I can perform calculations, on the computer, previously only possible for those who knew about sliderules.

I remember my first programmable scientific calculator back in the late 1970s, that allowed me to design and build a horn loaded loudspeaker to a tractix curve model. The calculations took me more than a week after I learned how to use it.

Today it is possible to design such things in 3D mode by clicking and dragging the image to what is desired, press the enter key and the figures are spat out while you drink your coffee. Amazing!

All of which makes me realise how fast we are moving with our technology.

Just to keep it topical, I think exactly the same thing applies to writing. I doubt I could ever write, even with a typewriter, a story as easily or as quickly, as I can on the computer. Writing longhand just wasn't fast enough to let me retain my thought until I had written it down.

Of course that doesn't mean I can write anything worthwhile, just look at this rambling post. :icon_twisted:

However the plus side is that the whole world can look at my words in a few moments. Is that a blessing or a curse?

Some questions just don't have an answer we want to hear. :icon_twisted:

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All of which makes me realise how fast we are moving with our technology.

Des' comment brings up another question for me. Have any of you tried using voice technology such as Dragon Speaking to talk in your stories? If so, do you see it as an advantage or merely easier? Perhaps you discovered it was harder to use than the assumed result would be.

Curious...

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[...] All of which makes me realise how fast we are moving with our technology. [...]

I have a friend who has worked in the computer field since the 1960's.

You'd expect someone like that to be a complete anorak and/or geek.

Yet he still gets excited about the speed of change; what computer's can do; and the fact that, even though he has been at the forefront of the research down all those years, it's almost unbelievable that they can do what they do.

He refers, with genuine reverence in his voice, to the modern day home computers as "PFM" machines.

PFM standing for "Pure F**king Magic!"

It's when I hear him talking like that, that I realise just how I tend to take technological progress for granted sometimes.

Marty

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Des' comment brings up another question for me. Have any of you tried using voice technology such as Dragon Speaking to talk in your stories? If so, do you see it as an advantage or merely easier? Perhaps you discovered it was harder to use than the assumed result would be.

Curious...

I suspect it would work, but not yet for me.

I am so used to talking in one style that is totally different to the one needed for the written word intended to be read, that I have trouble with it.

I thought it would be great, but I find the spoken words get ahead of the rationale behind the thought.

I also think I have detected several stories of less than worthy writing that have used recording.

This is not to say it shouldn't be done, or that it won't be done. I am almost certain it is, but literature requires thinking, needs contemplation, examination and creative construction beyond the verbose tendencies of dictation. The first thoughts are not always the right ones.

There is a tendency to let actors ad lib or extemporise, particularly in soap opera. It would take a genius to do this with anything like the achievements of a Shakespeare or a Tolstoy.

And yet I am mindful of the quick wit who can respond with a glib string of words that can impress or sway an audience. (Think, lawyer or politician, or TV host.)

So maybe in time with the above creative process in mind we might learn to utilise recording words instead of typing them. Nevertheless I am still of the mind that the internalisation of the thought into phrases for reading will be still be written for quite sometime.

That doesn't mean that new ideas and methods won't speed things along.

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There is a tendency to let actors ad lib or extemporise, particularly in soap opera. It would take a genius to do this with anything like the achievements of a Shakespeare or a Tolstoy.

I am concerned that the very speed and ease of composition on a computer screen is leading us to extemporise in the direction of the soap opera rather than aspiring to the ranks of Shakespeare. We appear to have foregone the notion of writing in draft, of rereading, and making of making sure that we are correctly saying what we mean to say. It is all too easy, and easiest of all is the temptation to push that "Send" button.

James

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I am mindful of the quick wit who can respond with a glib string of words that can impress or sway an audience. (Think, lawyer or politician, or TV host.)

Strange how idle comments can bring back memories and stir emotions.

You forgot an important category, Des. Salesmen.

For glibness, thinking on their feet, and being slick and sly about it, it's difficult to beat a really capable professional salesman.

When I was the plant manager for an industrial company, I had weekly meetings with the company's president, the controller, and the VP of Sales. We sat together in the company's conference room and had to speak individually about what was going on in our area, problems, successes, and where we were going. I would prepare for the meeting, be sure of my facts, think up something humorous, and be ready to roll.

A frequent occurrence at these meetings was the president asking the Sales VP why we weren't selling to plan. We never seemed to sell to plan, and in fact rarely sold enough to keep our heads above water. And weekly, the Sales VP had to explain why.

I would have dreaded these confrontations. I'm not good at all at verbally defending myself and when I'm on the hot seat I squirm like a recently potty-trained four year old.

The Sales VP never squirmed in his life. And he always had an extemporaneous explanation why sales were faltering. He would effortlessly spurt out all sorts of reasons, reasons with just enough plausibility to make you think they might even be true, even when you knew they were not. He was that good, and could explain away every problem in the world, magically deflecting the blame away from him. Usually, it was my fault.

He certainly made a case for that. When sales were down--which was forever, as he never met his prognostications--it was because the quality of the products was inferior (my fault as I was in charge of product quality) or because we had run out of something he had orders for but couldn't deliver (my fault because having adequate inventories of finished products was my responsibility) or because the prices were too high for our products due to too high manufacturing costs (my bad, as cost of manufacturing was my bailiwick) or because the products we were making weren't the products the market was demanding (my fault because I couldn't retool quickly or cheaply enough.)

I would hear these reasons week after week. The controller would look at me and roll his eyes. The president would listen, and I could tell he was conflicted. When I was given the chance to defend myself against whatever reason was in play any specific week, I would have facts to support my position. I never felt I should have to do this. The products we made were all to industry standards in quality, we produced to the volume of his projected sales forecast and so had enough of the products in stock he had said we would need, we generally produced for less than the budgeted manufacturing costs, and we made what we'd all agreed to make, which was what he told us the market wanted. The reasons the Sales VP gave were mostly spurious, but he gave them so well, sold them so completely, my facts didn't compare well to his gushing, silver-tongued persuasiveness.

As I say, the president was conflicted. The Sales VP was about 65 years old and very well established in the industry with the various wholesalers with whom we did business. If he left us and went with one of our competitors, he'd take a lot of business with him, and we couldn't afford that. So, the president didn't know quite what to do when confronted with accusatory rhetoric blaming all the company's sales woes on me. It was easier for him to believe manufacturing was the problem, and if we could get our act together, Sales would perform.

I always regretted not being able to speak as well as this man,who became my enemy, could. It was apparent, how you performed on your job could take a back seat to how well you sold yourself. And he was wonderful at that. He was indeed a salesman.

C

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