Taking Tea in the Kasbah

Dear Benedict,

Many thanks for the words of encouragement and the fantastic writing cave theme songs you’ve sent me. Vampire Weekend and Nina Simone? Brilliant choices. I can hardly wait to see what else you’ll send my way in the coming weeks.

I have a feeling I’m going to have a difficult time choosing just one. I may have to rotate them according to my mood, which, as you know, changes often. Last week, I was all giddy with excitement over my new YA novel idea. The good news is I’m still over the moon about it. Ideas, character sketches and plot points are coursing through my synapses faster than I can write and type them. Names, settings, and subplots that have been jumping around in my funny little brain are finally getting organized into a semi-coherent outline. The neighbors are thankful that I have a legitimate reason to be talking to myself when I go for a walk. And it finally means me and the guy who pushes the wheelbarrow with the cooler in it to the grocery store to do his weekly shopping are further apart on the Odd Neighbor Continuum. It’s all good.

I’ve even started a Pinterest board for the novel as well, which is really just a way to justify spending time on Pinterest. Whatever. Don’t judge. It’s not allowed in the kasbah or the writing cave during the Brainstorming Phase. They must be treated as  sanctuaries for the little idea seedlings and judgement will stunt their growth. All ideas are welcome during Brainstorming, ideas like interesting character names, funky book titles, or chalk drawings of John Denver.

You’re probably wondering about that last one. Long story. I’ll explain it after I finish this novel. Just know that if you were to suggest making chalk drawings of John Denver during a Brainstorming session, I wouldn’t judge it. I would tell you it was a grand idea. In fact, I would even say I LOVE it and it’s the best idea EVER.

The bad news is that I’ve been hopped up on Writing Endorphins and then I drink a double espresso in the morning and again in the afternoon, all of which makes me WIRED. Like let’s-go-swim-the-English-Channel-right-after-we-run-a-marathon wired. Also, it makes me write rambling sentences about chalk drawings of John Denver. IT ALSO MAKES ME WANT TO WRITE IN ALL CAPS AS THOUGH I’M YELLING, BUT I’M NOT. BECAUSE THAT WOULD BE SILLY TO YELL AT YOU IN A LETTER, ESPECIALLY IF I’M NOT EVEN ANGRY. WHICH I’M NOT. I’M JUST FULL OF WRITING ENDORPHINS. AND CAFFEINE.

You’re probably going to recommend I cut back on the coffee and normally I would agree with you. But you see, I have been in a Writing Purgatory for the last several months, writing in never-ending circles, and feeling like a big, fat poser. And now that I’m not stuck there, I just want to get the story on the page before it vanishes. And if that means my little Italian coffee pot is getting more of a workout than usual, then so be it. If that means my blog posts will be in all caps for the next few months, well, that’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make.

It’s kinda like when you ate lots of doughnuts and other junk food to gain weight for Parade’s End. Or when you drank whiskey and then smoked like a 1960’s advertising exec (you’re killing me with that one) to see if it would lower the timbre of your lovely voice for a role. Over-caffeinating is the writer’s equivalent of doing what it takes for the sake of the story.

I’m just doing it for the team. And by team, I mean myself, my laptop, my notebook and my resident genius who can be quite helpful when he’s not observing Talk Like a Pirate Day. Besides, I’m the only one who can drink the coffee. Or so they all say.

But enough about me. The Emmys are happening tomorrow and you’re up for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie and Sherlock is nominated for a whopping 13 awards, all for A Scandal in Belgravia. You may need to clear a space for a new award to place among the many others on your shelf. And if it doesn’t happen this year, I’ve no doubt that next year you’ll be collecting awards like I collect books. Like I’ve said before, this is the Year of Fire and Underwear for you, friend.

Fire. And. Underwear.

(You’re welcome for not putting that in all caps.)

Best of luck to you and Team Sherlock tomorrow.

Caffeinatedly 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. 

18 thoughts on “Dear Benedict: On Making Sacrifices & Taking One for the Team

  1. on ,
    livrancourt said:

    It’s nice to see that you and your muse have such a strong relationship, Tami. Rock on!



    And, it’s a wonderfully creative, happy place to be. It’s a dang good thing I began kick-boxing classes to burn off some of my excess energy.

    Write on! (Yeah, yeah, I know. Writer cliche alert)


      Kick-boxing, you say? I may have to try that. I’m sure the neighbors would prefer that to me jumping on the trampoline at 2am when I can’t sleep.

      (Just kidding.)

      (Sort of.) 😉

  3. Ah, the creative endorphin rush! I live for that “story high”. I’m afraid I have to admit that I am a storyaholic. At least it’s legal, and there’s no chance of me endangering anyone while I’m “under the influence” of story. I might scare a few people with my spontaneous outbursts of giddy laughter and jubillant hoots of joy when an epiphany strikes. But hey, that’s a small price to pay in my book. 😀

      • No. Never! I won’t even talk on the phone (hands free) and drive. So definitely not writing or texting. Though, I can’t do much about story points popping up while I’m behind the wheel, or characters bursting in for witty repartee. 😉

        • I find inspirations like those come at the most inopportune times, like when I’m driving or in the shower and can’t write them down.

  4. I am a big proponent of caffeine to fuel creative processes. Go expresso. Good luck to Benedict on the awards. I’m sure that an acknowledgement or trophy is not necessary; your opinion of him is what counts. 🙂

    • Espresso-fueled writing seems to be working for me. I retreat in to the writing cave with some espresso and some cello music and I’m set to write.

      The day my opinion of a celebrity is worth more to them than an Emmy, I’ll know I’ve made it big. 😉

  5. What fun! Chalk drawings of John Denver? The year of fire and underwear for dear Benedict? I have no doubt that Hurricane Tami will soon abate, leaving not a shred of destruction in her path, but instead, a shiny Novel of the Best Kind standing as resplendent as the Queen’s jewels on the shelves of Barnes and Noble.

    • Hurricane Tami? With the less than usual spelling of my name, I haven’t been associated with nature’s fury by name. I kinda like it. I also like your confidence in me being able to bring forth a Novel of the Best Kind that is both resplendent and shelf-worthy. Many thanks, Jodi, for the ego-boosting compliments. 🙂

  6. You are funny. I get so caught up in the story that I fail to say so. So here it is: your writing has a wonderful sense of humor. That’s a gift to treasure. And, man, that Benedict has become a part of all of our lives. Thank you.

    • Thank you, Sara. Your praise means a lot to me. And yeah, Benedict is like an honorary part of our group, isn’t he?

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