It began with:
“There is a wall and, across the dark room, another wall.
I walk between them. Getting there – to the other wall – is the goal. What is in the middle is mere mathematics: five strides sees me across the old stone floor, and I practice so that my toe touches the far wall exactly on the fifth . . . the edges of the room are safer; I have no idea why . . .”
And then it grew … What started as a light-hearted riposte to ‘my’ character (Ben) being cast into Bakewell Jail by my partners in crime Sue Vincent and Stuart France, in the latest series of their ground-breaking books on the nature of spiritual involvement with the British landscape, began to take on a different life of its own – so much so that a number of people engaged with both sets of writing and began to ask when Ben’s Bit would be published …
Having published six books in this series, beginning with The Initiate, Stuart and Sue had firm plans for their continuation into the next set of three adventures: ‘Lands of Exile’.
Those involved with any form of writing will know that characters take on a life of their own. In Ben’s case this became very vivid, very quickly, as the incarcerated man found his voice and began to tell his tale, using heart and head in a way that I had not anticipated. Being the primary writer of the Silent Eye’s distance-learning courses, and, until this year, the annual workshops, it was quite a joy to write something light-hearted … but with a dark twist.
Ben’s imprisonment, for what initially seems a trivial first offence, began to take on deeper meanings as he found himself between the jaws of an – initially unseen – set of forces. By Part 9, these had begun to crystallise in rather sinister way, much as life can often do …
Ironically, and graciously, Sue and Stuart were obliged to change their initial writing plans by ‘Ben’ jumping in ‘with both feet’, and the reaction to the story. They knew the intended length of Ben’s incarceration, whereas the poor prisoner knew very little, accept that, as Stuart said, “It could be some time”. Mischief is one of their finest characteristics. In addition, and quite wonderfully, we had each begun to construct the same extensions to the present storyline … in isolation; coming to realise, with astonishment, at the recent Harvest of Being worksop, that we were flying over the same landscape, so to speak!
So … in a fine gesture, which, I have no doubt, will ultimately be expensive, they have suggested that we synchronise the production of the parallel stories. To accommodate this they have altered the sequencing of their new series of books “Lands of Exile’. There is a slight casualty of this process in that it will mean that I need to back-pedal on the publication of further episodes until the start of January 2016, at which point the two books will become synchronised but still-separate stories. We all think the combined result will be worth the wait.
So, a big thank you for the responses which prompted all this … and bear with me/us to the New Year, when the story will continue.
I will be using the interim Saturday slots to do other things … please watch this space …
———————————————————–< to be continued in January 2016 –
Ben’s Bit is a continuing first-person narrative of the character created by Stuart France and Sue Vincent, which may bear some relation to the author of this story, Steve Tanham, their fellow director of the Silent Eye School of Consciousness. In the latest of their books, Scions of Albion, Ben is arrested for his overly enthusiastic part in a mad escapade, and the other two are nowhere to be seen . . . For more, enjoy their Doomsday series of books, and the new series (Lands of Exile) beginning soon. Click here for details.
All characters portrayed are fictional.
Index to Ben’s Bits:
The Silent Eye School of Consciousness – a modern mystery school.