Quotes from The Tender Bar by J R Moehringer

January 12, 2013 at 5:50 pm | Posted in Personal | Leave a comment

The Tender Bar by J R Moehringer

Then there was Thucydides. Christ. I wanted to crawl inside the book and slap the old bastard around. I wanted to scream at him, Just give me the bottom line, man! I’d memorized one sentence from Thucydides’ history of the Peloponnesian War, a sentence that dragged on longer than the war itself.

I knew less about love than about constitutional law, but on the flight to Arizona I decided I was in love.

“Do you know why God invented writers? Because He loves a good story. And He doesn’t give a damn about words. Words are the curtain we’ve hung between Him and our true selves. Try not to think about the words. Don’t strain for the perfect sentence. There’s no such thing. Writing is guesswork. Every sentence is an educated guess, the reader’s as much as yours. Think about that the next time you curl a piece of paper into your typewriter.”

The air was soft, the students passing on the street below were in shirtsleeves. They looked brisk and cheerful. They were off to classes and practices, and I wanted to join them, but I couldn’t. I’d dug too deep a hole for myself. I wondered what would happen if I just fell off the ledge. Would I die or merely break my collarbone and make a scene? It wasn’t a suicidal impulse, more a bleak fantasy, but I recognized it as a new and alarming turn in my thoughts.

“You have to have a job,” my mother said. “End of story.” “I will have a job. Writing my novel.” I smiled. She didn’t.

“I don’t know.” I thought of my diploma. I thought of my pride. Then I thought of the look on my mother’s face at Publicans. “When would I have to—When could I start?” “Right away.”

“The bar is ‘like a fart in the badlands?’” Cager said, pointing to one of my pages. “Why is the bar like a fart in the badlands?” “That’s a typo,” I said. “Should say ‘fort.’ Fort in the badlands.” “I think I like it this way. Fart in the badlands. Think about it.”

He was a dedicated craftsman, and the rewards he’d gained from hard work went far beyond mastering a slider and a change. He’d mastered himself. He didn’t work hard merely because he was talented, but because he knew that hard work was the right path for a man, the only path. He wasn’t paralyzed, as I was, by the fear of making a mistake.

The first step in learning, I decided, was unlearning, casting off old habits and false assumptions.

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