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!


  1. This is actually my favorite writing movie and when I'm in the writing slump, I watch it. What a great film.


  2. Thanks, Ann! This blog, and the pair to follow are actually my response to a challenge from my DH after we watched the movie last weekend. I loved discussing the movie and its portrayal of writing/the writing mind-set. Hope you enjoy the posts that follow - and glad you visited!!! :-)

  3. Marianne,
    Great blog. I never saw the movie.. you have me intrigued. I'll have to watch it now.

  4. Neecy, it's sooooo good!!! Stay tuned for the 2nd installment. I can't say enough about it - especially to those who are writers - or fans of great writing. :-) Thanks for stopping by!!!!

  5. Ann Elle Altman, congratulations! You've won a $10.00 gift certificate to either The Wild Rose Press or White Rose publishing! Drop me a note here, with your e-mail! Thanks so much for visiting the blog, and stay tuned for part 2 of my exploration of Finding Forrester! It'll be posted tomorrow!

  6. Thanks Marianne! I am a Sean Connery fan, but I've never heard of this movie until now. Thanks for doing this post. Can't wait to see it. Maybe I'll try to rent it this weekend. Is this a new release to DVD or an older movie?