Friday, March 1, 2013

An Open Letter to Blake Snyder

Not long ago I commented on someone's blog about using one's blog to take a stand or voice a personal opinion on what could be a controversial issue.  I said I preferred not to. But today, I'm doing just that.  I'm using my blog to say something I need to say, to someone I'm certain will never hear it.

This post is an Open letter to author Blake Snyder. 

Mr. Snyder,

I recently purchased your book, Save the Cat. I read it and found it very useful. But I was totally taken aback by something you wrote on page 144. The sentence reads:

“Nothing happens or happens so slowly you can’t believe a human being wrote it and not some mental patient.”

“…a human being…and not some mental patient.”

“…a human being…and not some mental patient.”

Two days ago, I devoted my blog post to remembering my mom. She was a warm, kind, loving person and a wonderful mother who devoted herself to her family.

She also suffered from schizophrenia.

Long before Alzheimer’s stole most of her memories, my mother had to deal with the irrational fears and hallucinations—never able to fully trust what she saw or what she heard—that are part of this horrible illness.

She was a “mental patient.”

How dare you, Mr. Snyder, imply that her illness made her less than human?  

How dare you imply that the 2.4 million Americans suffering from schizophrenia, the 5.7 million affected by Bipolar Disorder and the 14.8 million dealing with major depression—all “mental patients”—are no longer “human beings”?

Can you imagine how hurtful flippant comments like that are to the victims of mental illness, and to their families?  Sure, we hear them all the time. I grew up listening to them. But I told myself they were the words of the ignorant.

You, sir, are not ignorant. You should have known better.

You should be ashamed.

Linda Masterson Leszczuk

Quote of the Day:

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle.” ~ Plato


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Wow, he really worded that poorly!

Liz Fichera said...

I agree with you on this. I really get upset whenever anyone makes fun (or makes light) of anyone with a mental illness/disease, including dementia and Alzheimer's. Anyone who's watched someone suffer would understand completely. Obviously he hasn't but if he has parents/siblings nearing their 70's and 80's, he might very well have the experience.

Carol Kilgore said...

I doubt he meant any harm, but comments such as his should have been corrected during the editing process.

Blake Snyder died a few years ago.

LD Masterson said...

Alex - At the very least.

Liz - Well, Carol's comment (just below yours) says he won't but I wouldn't have wished it on him anyway. I know you understand where I'm coming from.

Carol - I didn't know that. Unfortunately the book, with the hurtful comment, lives on.

The fact that the line in question was allowed past the final edit is part of the underlying problem, ins't it?

Anonymous said...

Thank you for writing this post, Linda. It is a reminder to all of us to be careful what we pen.

Linda G. said...

We're in absolute agreement. Perhaps he didn't mean it the way it sounded; if that's the case, he should learn how to express himself better.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

I'm sure he didn't mean ill with that comment, but someone should've caught that one.

Maria Zannini said...

I'm sure he didn't mean it the way it came out, but it was pretty insensitive. I can guarantee he'd never had a loved one suffer from mental illness or he'd have never written those words.

Kimber Leszczuk. said...

I agree with you on this. It really upsets me too. My beautiful sweet daughter who is only 11 years old and gets straight A's in school and makes community service important to herself has been seeing a psychiatrist since she was 5 years old and diagnosed with ADHD. That makes her a "mental patient" too. She has a kinder heart than a lot of undiagnosed kids. HOW DARE HE imply that mental illness = less than human?

Gwen Gardner said...

I don't know what the statistics are on mental illness, but I'd bet at least half of us have some form it at some time or another. Shame on him for stigmatizing it.

Karen Walker said...

For a writer to work something so stupidly is unforgivable. Good for you, LD

Angela Brown said...

That is an unfortunate example of how words are legacy builders. He has what is a great book on the craft of writing, yet such phrasing never set off enough flags for someone to reconsider publishing with the words strung together as they are.

And you are right about another thing. Though he may not be here physically, his words will live on. The good and the poorly chosen.

Mason Canyon said...

Well said Linda.

Thoughts in Progress

LD Masterson said...

Linda J., Linda G., and Diane - I'm sure he wasn't trying to be mean, but just the fact that he could make a comment like that and no one called him on it, I find really upsetting.

Maria - True, but one shouldn't have to be personally affected by something to be sensitive to the feeling of others.

Kim - Another good point. Many children are under treatment for all kinds of "mental" problems.

Gwen - Sadly, that stigma keep many people from seeking help when needed. They don't want the "mental patient" label.

Karen - Stupidity can be it's own form of cruelity.

Angela - The fact that no flags were set off shows how little prograss has been made in some areas. I can think of any number of slurs that would have set of sirens.

Mason - Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Wow! I totally agree as my wife is a CNA and private duty caregiver. I meet all her patients. I see the changes as time progresses and these good people need to be treated with dignity and respect.

LD Masterson said...

Stephen - Thank you. That's exactly right.

Misha Gericke said...

... You make a good point, Linda, but he died in 2009.

Mike Keyton said...

You can be hostage to fortune - and words. I think I'd rather be hostage to fortune. Ref your starting off point however, I think, within moderation ie so you don't become a shrieking bore - it is important to voice opinion. I have friends whose opinions I don't agree with but it doesn't change things. Friends count, not opinions