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.
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.
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.
*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 taken at face value or seen as a true collaborative writing endeavor with him.