Taking Tea in the Kasbah

Dear Tami,

You have obviously taken to heart my suggestion of taking your game to the next level. A whole week has passed and I’ve neither seen you nor suspected you were tricking me in one of your clever disguises. Does this mean you’re almost finished with your novel and will soon emerge from the writing cave? Based on your letter this week, I suspect not. Then again, you are good at the art of deception. (By the way, give Joe Riggs my regards and thanks. How flattering that he shared my letter on his blog.)

I’m thinking your recent absence has more to do with feeling discouraged about falling behind on meeting the writing goals you’ve set for yourself this year. You may be able to hide behind your disguises and enigmatic clues to the cave’s whereabouts, but I can read between the lines in your letters. The disappointment comes through loud and clear.

If you want my opinion (actually, I’m going to give it to you regardless – this is my letter after all), I think you’ve taken one too many blows to your confidence over the last several months. If I knew where that writing cave was, I would come there and talk some sense into you. Of course, I would calmly listen to the multitude of reasons why you think you’re not ready to sign up for sessions with agents and editors at the upcoming writing conference and then I would counter them with some big doses of reality. There may be an impromptu dance party mixed in there, too. Anything’s possible.

I mean, if I can strut my stuff like a young Hugh Hefner on the catwalk at my first fashion show, then you can certainly put yourself and your writing out there.

Spencer Hart fashion show ~ image via benedictcumberbatch.co.uk

Sure, I had a few nips of the prop drink before I walked out there but the point is I did it. Remember that quote by Eleanor Roosevelt – Do one thing every day that scares you. If you’re not a little scared, my friend, you’re not doing what really inspires you, what really drives you to the next level in your pursuit of your passion. (Not that fashion shows are my personal passion, but you get my point.)

Shakespeare said “Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt.” Don’t let your disappointments constrain you or worse – allow them to transform into doubts that sabotage your creative energy. If a doubt or two sneaks its way in, notice them for what they are – fleeting, temporary distractions and nothing more.

You know I’m right, don’t you? How can you not trust the wisdom of a guy who wears braces? (translation for the Americans: braces = suspenders) Source: benedictcumberbatch.co.uk via Tami on Pinterest

Be afraid, but not of the fear of failure. Be afraid of the regrets you’ll undoubtedly have when you look back and realize you didn’t push yourself forward but instead held yourself back. I’ve said this before in many an interview but it’s as good as any mantra to live by: Live a life less ordinary. Go out there and be extraordinary. Or if you prefer the way you said it over at Laird’s blog: get down with your bold self.

There’s always those one-woman dance parties you like to have to get the fire in the belly burning brightly again. Crank up the music and let go.

And if I hear the pulse of some good dance tunes coming from a seemingly deserted place, I’ll know I’m closing in on the writing cave. But don’t fret, I won’t barge in and disturb the sanctity of it. That is, unless you invite me in. I can have my own one-man dance party outside and be happy knowing that you’re gettin’ down with your bold self, too.

Encouragingly yours,



*Editor’s note: The views, ideas, and opinions expressed in the Letters from Benedict series are works of fiction and did not come from the actor himself. Obviously. This series is just my ridiculous way of expressing adoration for Mr. Cumberbatch and his work and is not intended to be taken at face value or seen as a true collaborative writing endeavor with him.

26 thoughts on “Letters from Benedict: On Fear, Confidence, & Dance Parties

  1. on ,
    livrancourt said:

    “Be afraid of the regrets you’ll undoubtedly have when you look back and realize you didn’t push yourself forward but instead held yourself back.”
    Brilliant. Thank you for putting it out there.

  2. He’s right, you know … get down with your bold self! Letters From Benedict is about to go viral. Congrats! 😀

    • Lol – Viral? Not holding my breath. For now, I’ll just put on some dance tunes and let loose on my own private dance floor. Maybe we should all have a virtual dance party some day. 🙂

  3. Tami, you are so fortunate to have the devotion and undying support of your adoring Benedict.

    One-woman dance party? Now you’re talkin’! Crank the tunes and party on. WOOT!

    • I am also fortunate that I have brilliant readers who are here with me, along for the ride in my crazy fantasy life.

      I’m hoping he’s inspired more than a few dance parties tonight. 🙂

  4. Precisely what I needed today, Tami. SO much wisdom in a short, kick-a$$ letter. KUDOS!

    Psst. Ben. Hon. Don’t waste your time trying to find Tami’s writing cave. Sending my GPS coordinates via express mail.

    • Thanks, Gloria. He tells me that looking for the writing cave is, in part, about the game. And the fact that I store an obscene amount of chocolate there. Also, there’s the fascination with tricking me into a more lewd version of my novel.

    • Aren’t you the savvy one Gloria. I wish I’d thought of that. (psst – Ben. Sent my coordinates too. I think I’m closer so maybe you should come here first). Sorry Gloria.

      • Things in the kasbah are sure heating up these days, what with all of the GPS coordinates being given out like candy around here. 😉

  5. Thank you Benedict for words of advice I needed to hear as well. I know your letters are to Tami, but I feel like we’re becoming friends through reading them. Now, if you and Tami don’t mind, I’m going to take your advice head on and ‘get down with my bold self’ and dance it out!

    • Sounds like there’s a collective dance party going on all over the place. Cheers to you, Elizabeth, and everyone else gettin’ down with their bold selves wherever they are!

  6. I love your Shakespeare quote and I certainly think it’s a great time to put ourselves out there.The publishing world is evolving and we have the opportunity to be part of change and a new, exciting world of writers. Can you imagine trying to break into writing in the 1950s or even 80s?

    • Thanks, Brinda! I agree, this is a great time to be a writer and break into the publishing world. So many possibilities, so many ways to connect with readers and fabulous authors like yourself. 🙂

  7. What words of wisdom! I have both Eleanor’s and Shakespeare’s quotes sticky noted to my work area. I added a new one recently from Oprah: “You get in life what you have the courage to ask for.”

    Echoing Ben’s words: relax and go meet those agents and editors. You’ll feel so good for having done it!

    Going to go dance it out now!

    • Thanks, Sharon! Oprah’s quote is a great one, similar to one I just read on another blog: “Make your own luck.”

      I really wanted to have my manuscript done before going to the conference but I’m really behind on it. I’m thinking I shouldn’t pitch to anyone if it’s not done yet. Then there’s the question of whether this first novel is even pitch-worthy or best left to the desk drawer… I’m with you, I think I’ll go dance it out now. 🙂

  8. Ol’ Ben has great advice for everyone, writers or not. I loved all the quotations. I can’t say whether to pitch or not, but you can never go wrong with dancing.

  9. on ,
    Mary Ann said:

    Tami…this is really, really good

  10. Tami, if you were to write a self-help book, I would buy it and recommend it to everyone I know. What an awesome & inspiring post. Please thank Benedict for his sage advice. I know I needed to read this today! 🙂

    • Thanks, Laird! I’ll be sure to let him know you liked it. He loves hearing that sort of thing. 😉

  11. on ,
    marcia said:

    The wisdom of wearing “braces”…..sounds like the title of a good book. I was put into suspenders in kinder and have always liked the look… Ben looks especially good in them!

    • That is a good book title, perhaps for his biography. I’ll even volunteer to write it. 😉

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