Saturday, August 4, 2012

Remembering Blake Snyder

It is three years today since my friend Blake Snyder died. I still think about him every day and especially about the encouragement he would undoubtedly give me during what have become very dark times. That part of my life, when I first arrived in LA, bursting with optimism and a sense of new adventure, now seems an age away; but today, at this moment, it feels real again. I'm reprinting what I wrote at the time, not least to remind myself that life is capable of throwing up special moments, special people, who can change the course of everything. 


Readers of this blog will be familiar with the name of the screenwriter Blake Snyder.

It was through his encouragement that I first came to LA, having sent him the title and logline for my budding screenplay, Celebrity Stalker, in response to which I received the most incredible, encouraging e-mail.

I subsequently travelled to the city to do Blake’s Beats course, and it was the start of a friendship that would see me end up living 6000 miles across the Atlantic and pursuing my dream of being what I called a “real writer”.

Blake died suddenly this morning. I found out on Facebook, where I daily looked at his profile to see how many more inspiring stories there were from the people across the world whom he had helped in their screenwriting struggles.

His passion and enthusiasm for what he did never faltered, and everyone who came into contact with him became the beneficiary of that.

From my first contact with Blake in May 2008, he taught me many things, not only in relation to screenwriting. He was also a wonderful human being: full of compassion and love for his fellow men. The person I refer to in the blog Shopping For Niceness was him: a man who did not think that we were the best judges of other people’s foibles, and who saw the good in everyone he met.

When we had lunch two weeks ago, I remarked that although we had known each other face to face for just five months, it seemed that a lot had happened: I was living in LA, for starters. It was a move that he had positively encouraged, and he listened and supported me through what have been some very bleak moments.

I just cannot believe that he is gone, and my sympathies go out to his family, colleagues, and everyone whose lives were blessed to have been touched by this giving, wonderful man.

Facebook and his website are already full of entries expressing shock and disbelief at his sudden parting. But what comes through in all of them is his goodness, kindness, and ability to embrace people who reached out, both professionally and personally. He had that rarest of things: the gift of spirit.

My dearest Blake: my heart is breaking. In a screenplay, you would call it the All Is Lost moment that precedes Dark Night of the Soul. But as I sit here with your book before me – as you know, it never leaves my side – I look to the finale and the final image that follows. The final image, you say, is “the opposite of the opening image. It is proof that change has occurred and that it’s real.”

The image of my life now, compared to before you came into it, is very much the opposite of what it was, and I have you to thank for that.

I will celebrate your life by doing the work of which you constantly told me I was capable, and it will always be with immense gratitude and love that I remember you.

God bless, and, as you say in Save the Cat, when you describe dropping that script in the mail: “It is what it is.”

Your death is what it is.

Quite how we will all move on without you being among us is too early to say; but we will – and you will be with us in so many ways.

I told you over our last lunch that for me, everlasting life was about the things we left behind – the laughter, the ideas, the wisdom, the insight, the love – and that it was this, rather than any notion of God, that gave me great joy.

There's no joy today, and the Dark Night of the Soul looks never-ending.

But you will live on, my sweet, darling friend. Eternally.

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