I had always believed, and not only out of cynicism, that a man and a woman could tell in the first ten minutes whether they wanted to go to bed together; and that the time that passed after those first ten minutes represented a tax, which might be worth paying if the article promised to be really enjoyable, but which nine times out of ten became rapidly excessive.
A businessman is someone who buys at ten and is happy to get out at twelve. The other kind of man buys at ten, sees it rise to eighteen and does nothing. He is waiting for it to get to twenty. The beauty of numbers. When it drops to ten again he waits for it to get back to eighteen. When it drops to two he waits for it to get back to ten. Well, it gets back there. But he has wasted a quarter of his life. And all he's got out of his money is a little mathematical excitement.
Think upon the numbers I have been sharing with you. Of your competitors, five out of ten will do little more than take their customer's money immorally. A further three out of ten will leave them dissatisfied.
Ten good lines out of four hundred, Emily-comparatively good, that is-and all the rest balderdash-balderdash, Emily." "I-suppose so, " said Emily faintly. Her eyes brimmed with tears-her lips quivered. She could not help it. Pride was hopelessly submerged in the bitterness of her disappointment. She felt exactly like a candle that somebody had blown out. "What are you crying for? demanded Mr. Carpenter. Emily blinked away tears and tried to laugh. "I-I'm sorry-you think it's no good-" she said. Mr. Carpenter gave the desk a mighty thump. "No good! Didn't I tell you there were ten good lines? Jade, for ten righteous men Sodom had been spared." "Do you mean-that-after all-" The candle was being relighted again. "Of course, I mean. If at thirteen you can write ten good lines, at twenty you'll write ten times ten-if the gods are kind. Stop messing over months, though-and don't imagine you're a genius, either, if you have written ten decent lines. I think there's something trying to speak through you-but you'll have to make yourself a fit instrument for it. You've got to work hard and sacrifice-by gad, girl, you've chosen a jealous goddess. And she never lets her votaries go-not even when she shuts her ears forever to their plea.
If ten eyewitnesses are asked to describe a suspect, you'll get ten different variations. The same applies to readers and their opinions about the same book. And that's how it should be; we're not robots.