Taking Tea in the Kasbah

Dear Tami,

I can tell from the sound of your letter this week that your genius has finally shown up to do his part on your next big idea: a new YA novel. I’m chuffed to bits for you. Not to brag, but I think having a theme song for the writing cave as I suggested last week might have been the just the thing to motivate him. No need to send thanks. That is, unless it’s in the form of a link on Google Maps.

The excitement of a new project is so intoxicating, isn’t it? It can also bring with it a fair amount of trepidation and self-doubt. Just run with it, friend, let it flow through you and see where it leads. That’s all part of the journey, right? It’s a process and not about achieving perfection. It’s about being an eager and humble student, learning all that you can and then practising it over and over. Ad infinitum.

Benedict Cumberbatch

And if your critique group does send you some hate mail for temporarily denying them the ending to your previous novel, simply send them my way. I’ll be glad to intercept their letters as well as any arguments they may have about your decision to let that particular unfinished novel rest until you’re ready to return to it. They’ll understand. And as you know, I can be very persuasive. If that doesn’t work, I’ll make ’em dance it out until they do. You don’t need to remind me how well that strategy works.

Since I don’t want to impede your creative flow with a lengthy letter, I’m going to get right to my next suggestion for the writing cave’s theme song. If you don’t mind me saying so, I think it matches quite well the mood that’s pervading the cave now:



I know, it’s been a favourite of yours for a long time. That’s the beauty of this one. It’s already on your iPod just waiting for you to crank up the volume when you enter the cave. It will help you and your genius get down to business. I can just picture the creativity flowing right through your fingers as the letters become words become sentences and so on, all the way to a completed novel.

And then it will be time to have some fun outside of the writing cave.

Benedict Cumberbatch

If it would help, I’ll even stand sentry at the writing cave’s entrance, you know, to keep out the other distractions. Like Eric Northman. And Don Draper. And Damon Salvatore. You know what I’m needing to make that happen.

Excitedly yours,



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

26 thoughts on “Letters from Benedict: On the Next Big Idea & the Next Theme Song

  1. I am thrilled for you and Benedict as you begin this new venture, Tami. Did I detect a note of precaution–jealousy even–in the names Ben* mentioned? [*He gave me permission to call him that. Really.]

    Is he, perhaps, a bit concerned your tastes will run to younger men as you write in this new genre?

    Sneaky devil. Offering to stand guard outside the writing cave. Me thinks he doth ulterior motives have. [Forsooth]

    My plans are to join you in a new genre when my current WIP is finished. I have a MG Light Fantasy with a persistent, precocious eleven-year-old clambering to have her days on the pages.

    Can’t wait to live vicariously through you on this new genre journey.

    • Thanks, Gloria! Persistant, precocious eleven year olds are fun to write, so say the dusty pages of a few WIP’s that sit idle waiting for their turn on the laptop again. I started out thinking I would write MG and then switched to YA. My prevous WIP was also YA but after trying in vain for the past six months to get it to flow again, I’ve decided to put it aside and let these other characters in my head have their way say. I probably waited too long and lingered way beyond what I should have with the other YA novel. I’m excited to be excited about writing again, though.

      And I’m excited for you to forge ahead into the world of MG novels! I’m looking forward to hearing more about this new adventure on your Glob. 😉

      Is he jealous of Eric, Don, and Damon? Not so much. Just wondering who else he’s keeping company with on my list of distractions and making sure none of them get me off task for too long. At least I think so…

  2. Here, here on new ventures! And another astounding writing cave song. You know, you could create a Writing Cave Playlist with a theme song for every day of the week. There are no rules that say you can have only one!

    I have a MG comedy adventure I can’t wait to start, but I must complete this final draft oft YA supernatural mystery first!

    I shall cheer you on with your shiny new idea, however! Best of the best!

    • The Cave Playlist is a good idea! I am such a moody music listener that I might have to create one.

      I’m looking forward to the day when I get to read your YA novel. For me, sometimes it’s hard to stay focused on the current project when the characters of the other novels are peering in the windows with puppy dog eyes and saying “When’s it our turn?” Though I’m glad to have a few ideas rollin’ around in this head of mine. 🙂

      • If I’ve learned anything on this writing journey it is that you cannot rush the creative process (without endangering quality and integrity). I took a couple month hiatus from starting on this last revision of my YA novel, because I needed time for the right approach to percolate up to the surface. Trust your instincts and know you will finish that other story well when the time is right. You obviously need to write this other story for that to happen. 🙂

        • Over the past several months, I’ve put off writing out a few ideas that have bubbled to the surface in an attempt to finish the other one. This new idea has been the most persistant and now has my full attention. I gave the other story one last shot on Friday and aside from making some edits, still couldn’t get past the stuck point. I do need to put it aside for a while, though I’m hoping someday the solution will become more clear and I can finish because I’m rather fond of it. 🙂

  3. Snort. Tami, I never read your disclaimer until today.

    I agree with Ben, your writing group will understand, and if they don’t, they don’t. Decision’s been made.

    I’ve never heard this version of Feeling Good. Thanks for the introduction!

    • The group will understand, though I may get the stink eye from one of them every now and then for keeping them in the dark about the ending.

      I didn’t know there are other versions of this song. I’ll have to look ’em up.

  4. I LOVE Nina Simone. Perfect theme song. Ben gets it. Man, you’re lucky. Congratulations of your new project. Sometimes getting involved in something new helps the old get finished because you’re not so stuck on getting it done now and perfect, etc., etc. So it’s a double good thing.

    • Nina rocks this song, doesn’t she? I love it, too. He picked a good one this week.

      Thanks for the congrats – I was thinking the same thing about moving on to something else in hopes that maybe someday I’ll return to the unfinished novel. I was getting to the point of dread welling up when I opened the document. Sadly, I let that go on too long because now I have a bit of fear of getting stuck on the new novel and am worried I won’t be able to write my way out again like last time.

      • My advice: the obvious. Stop thinking. Have fun with it. Right now it’s just an idea that needs to grow. Eventually, you’ll need to be critical of it, but have fun with it now. That’s why you’re doing it, right? Because you love creating stories. Live in the love.

        Sara steps off soapbox.

        • You’re so right, Sara. Thanks for the sound advice. I’ve already started second-guessing myself – “Is this really as good of an idea as I think it is?”, “Can I take on something as complex as this?”, blah, blah, blah. I think I need to turn Nina on, rock out for a few minutes, and just write.

          And you can get on the soapbox here in the kasbah any day. 🙂

  5. Tami,
    It is MUCH better to move onto a new project that to feel stagnated and stuck with an existing one. Absence makes the heart grow fonder. Benedict is right. The critiquers will understand. If not, let them dance. I’m curious. What’s your pleasure? Contemporary, fantasy, sci-fi, or other?

    • Since I began this new story the other day, I’ve felt so much better about writing and being a writer. I was feeling like such a phoney, wannabe writer because I was so stuck in the other story. I do hope absence makes the heart grow fonder with that one. I still think it’s a decent story. It was just getting strangled by my frustration and stagnating.

      The previous story was more paranormal and deals with issues of our own mortality, grief, loss, and searching for a sense of belonging. This new story is a contemporary one with two first person narrators, one boy and one girl. I haven’t attempted that sort of thing before nor have I written from a teenage boy’s perspective. I may have to do some eavesdropping to help me with that one…

  6. OMiGosh, but your boy Ben is simply Brilliant! He always knows just the right combination of ingredients that will bake you the finest cake! What’s more, that he knows the very best theme song for the writing cave, even though he has yet to gain access, shows an incredibly generous spirit. Dare I say I am in constant threat of losing my own heart to this charming and thoughtful muse of yours!

    Ah, the joy of a new idea! There is nothing quite like it and I’m feeling your excitement. I won’t worry a fig about your unfinished WIP. So often it’s a period of leaving a story alone to simmer, that works best to enrich the flavor and get it sorted out for your return another day. I’ve done the bounce-about on projects and a period of distance has rarely failed to sort things out, un-kink the knots, and knockdown the wall.

    Wishing you oodles of good writerly vibes, Tami 😀

    • You have some of the best sayings, Barbara – “He always knows just the right combination of ingredients that will bake you the finest cake!” is my favorite here today. I may have to get that in my story somehow – with your permission, of course. 😉

      Thanks for the writerly vibes and encouragement. It’s been comforting to hear I’m in good company in letting my story sit and rest a while as I delve into the next story. I am so grateful for all of the support from our little writing community and visitors to the humble kasbah.

      • Yes, absolutely! You can have that cake and eat it too — uh, I mean use it too 😀

        Oh, but I, too, have crazy love for our little piece of the planet over here, where words and their owners mingle! The Kasbah is particularly lovely with your fine selections of tea and comfy cushions (and whatever it is you put into those delicate little crumpets is simply divine!).

        • Tea and crumpets mingling with words are a kasbah specialty made all the better with good company like yourself stopping by. 🙂

  7. on ,
    marcia said:

    I raise my glass and I toast you as you take a break with the old and begin anew in your book writing journey. The writing cave is humming with the newness of it all I’m sure!

  8. New writing projects are so much fun. Enjoy! And I like that theme song a lot.

    What I want to know is where do I get my own Ben?

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