Saturday, April 17, 2010

Finding Your Writer Self Through the Movie Finding Forrester

Happy weekend, everyone - and debuting now? Part 2 of finding your writer-self via the wisdom of the movie Finding Forrester! I've enjoyed diving into this movie very much. Following are some more thought provoking ideas and circumstances from the movie that truly hit home with me as a writer:
Forrester (to Jamal): Do you know what the absolute best moment is? When you've finished your first draft, and you read it by yourself. Before these editors take something they couldn't do in a lifetime and tear it down in a single day.

Forrester (to Jamal): Crawford cannot understand how a black kid from the Bronx can write the way you do.


(Following is one of my FAVORITE scenes!! A classroom confrontation between Professer Crawford, Jamal, and a student with the last name of Coleridge! GO JAMAL!)

Crawford – in class, lecturing: In looking at this book quotation, what, if any conclusions, might we be able to draw?

Coleridge, a student Crawford called on: You mean about the author?

Crawford: About anything, Mr. Colerdige….and, feel free to view this as the appropriate time for a response.

Coleridge: Er….

Crawford: Mr. Coleridge, “Er” does not excuse the fact that you don't know who wrote it.

Coleridge: I'm sorry, sir, I just don't...

Crawford: And you, of all people, should know who wrote that passage. Do you know why, Mr. Coleridge? I repeat: Do you know why?

Wallace (quietly to Coleridge): Just say your name, man.

Crawford (overhearing): Excuse me, Mr. Wallace - did you have something to contribute?

Wallace: I just said that he should say his name.

Crawford: And why would it be helpful for Mr. Coleridge to say his name?

Wallace: Because that's who wrote it. His great-grandfather.

Crawford: Very good, Mr. Wallace. Perhaps your skills extend a bit farther than basketball.
You may be seated, Mr. Coleridge.

Wallace: Further.

Crawford: Excuse me?

Wallace: You said my skills extend "farther" than the basketball court. “Farther" relates to distance. “Further" is a definition of degree. You should have said "further."

Crawford: Are you challenging me?

Wallace: No more than you challenged Coleridge.

Crawford: Then perhaps the challenge should have been directed elsewhere. (quoting)
"It is a melancholy truth that even...

Wallace (interrupting): "Great men have poor relations." That’s from Dickens.

Crawford (quoting): "You will hear the beat of..."

Wallace (interrupting): Kipling.

Crawford (quoting): "All great truths begin..."

Wallace (interrupting): Shaw.

Crawford (quoting): "Man is the only animal...”

Wallace (interrupting): “That blushes - or needs to." Mark Twain.

Crawford: Get out!


Forrester (to Jamal): You did nothing wrong. You just beat him at his own game. You have a gift that should allow you to do remarkable things in life. That is, if you don't screw it up...


Wallace (to Forrester): What's the reason for having a locked file cabinet of writing no one can ever read?


Jamal’s Brother (Handing an envelope to Forrester): It’s from Jamal. He wrote that for you.

Forrester: When?

Jamal’s Brother: Last night. After the game. He's going back to that school this morning. Going to face Crawford, and the rest of those people about the contest. It's funny. They always let you get just so far before taking everything away. He's such a good kid, man.


(The following scene never failes to give me chills - this scene, and the confrontation between Jamal and Crawford are worth the price of the DVD!)
Forrester (Entering Crawford's classroom): Professor Crawford. May I read a few words?

Crawford: Yes, of course, by all means.

Forrester (Now addressing the class): My name is William Forrester. The title of this piece is:
Losing Family. ‘Losing family obliges us to find our family. Not always the family that is our blood, but the family that can become our blood…’ (continues reading, to an enraptured class)

Crawford: Mr. Forrester, I'm sure I speak on behalf of everyone in thanking you for this visit. The quality of your words is something we should all aspire to reach. May I ask to what do we owe this honor?

Forrester: Professor Crawford, I spoke here today only because a friend of mine wasn't allowed to. A friend who had the integrity to protect my anonymity when I was unwilling to protect him. His name is Jamal Wallace. Those words that I read today - I didn't write them. Jamal Wallace did.

President/MC BoT: Jamal, these are your words? At sixteen? Remarkable. Mr. Wallace, you’re excused from Monday’s Board Meeting. This situation has been more than satisfactorily resolved.


Wallace: So where are you off to?

Forrester: Well, I have a homeland I haven't seen for too long.

Wallace: Hey…be sure to write.

Be sure to write.
At the end of the day, as authors we need to always keep that in mind, no matter what the obstacles, opinions, and intervention of others. Keep pushing to be the best we can.
Isn't that a great lesson? For writing, and for life?
Thanks for stopping by - and let me know your thoughts!!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Everything I needed to know about writing...I learned from Finding Forrester

Today's blog? And the next few that follow? I'm delving into the psyche of a writer - and the process of writing, and writing well. Obviously, given my background, this is a topic about which I am passionate. This movie captures the essence of writing so beautifully - and I highly, highly recommend. In fact, if you haven't seen it, run, don't walk, to the closest rental shop!!

To begin - of course - every writer's nightmare -- the "Synopsis:"

Jamal Wallace is an inner-city kid who is great at basketball, but a genius at writing. Despite just adequate grades, Jamal comes to the attention of a prestigious New York prep school. Both Jamal and the school know that the real reason they took him on is for his prowess on the basketball court. Befriended by Pulitzer-prize winning author and recluse William Forrester, Jamal pursues his dreams both on and off the court while overcoming obstacles placed in his way by a bitter literature teacher. The friendship between Jamal and William Forrester leads to William to overcome a reclusive life and Jamal to overcome racial prejudices and pursue his true dream - writing.

What follows are quotes from the movie that, to me, say it all - about writing, and even life - with its myriad of challenges:


Wallace: What's it feel like? Writing something the way you did.

Forrester: Perhaps you'll find out.


Forrester (to Jamal): Why is it the words we write for ourselves are always so much better than the words we write for others?


Forrester (to Jamal): Thinking comes later. You must write your first draft with your heart. You rewrite with your head. The key to writing is to write, not think!


Forrester (to Jamal): There's something you should know about Robert Crawford. He wrote a book. All the publishers rejected it, which was the right decision. But instead of writing another one, he took a job teaching other people how to write. So remember – bitterly disappointed teachers can either be very effective – or very dangerous.


Wallace: Why does a guy like you waste his time reading The National Enquirer? You should be reading The New York Times or something.

Forrester: I read The Times for dinner. This is my dessert.


Wallace: They got some writing contest at school. You ever enter one of those? A writing contest?

Forrester: Yeah. Once. A long time ago.

Wallace: Did you win?

Forrester: Well, of course I won.

Wallace: What – like money or something?

Forrester: No. The Pulitzer.


Wallace: They make all the students read their contest entries in front of everyone.

Forrester: What the hell's that got to do with writing? Writers write so that readers can read.

Wallace: You ever read your own book?

Forrester: In public like that? Hell, no. I barely read it in private.


President/Mailor-Callow School: You don't think he wrote it? That's a serious accusation, Robert.

Crawford: I'm aware of how serious it is. It's remarkable work.

President/MC BoT: Maybe he just needed direction.

Crawford: He's a basketball player. From the Bronx.

President/MC BoT: Have you considered that he might just be that good?

Crawford: Not this good.


There's more to come in a couple days - hope you enjoy! Let me know your thoughts about the mind of a writer!