I値l admit it - I知 a crabby, old woman who does not suffer fools well. But, there are few people who infuriate me more than lazy people with entitlement issues who want to waste my time.
I first met such a person a few years ago. I don’t know how he got my phone number but he did. He phoned me and said he had a manuscript and would be bringing it to me in Mahalapye so I could read it. I should give him my address. At the time, I was the vice chair person of the Writers Association of Botswana (WABO) and he assumed that meant this was part of my job. I explained to him that it was not and described how he should try to submit his manuscript to publishers. I also went on to explain how he might do it and gave him a few names of people he could contact. No, he said, all publishers were crooks. He’d already complained to the Office of the President about that situation.
Then he went on to insult me. When I stopped answering his phone calls, he emailed his insults. And then he went online and announced, in a public forum, that the reason I had so many published books was because I was hoarding all of the perks I got from being the vice chairperson of WABO. Little did he know, I’d have likely had more books published if I hadn’t put so much of my energy and money into that organisation, but that’s another story. I spent numerous days steaming about this man. Hours I could have been writing, I would spend drafting letters to him I would never send. This fed into a cycle in which I was now angry because the person made me so upset I could no longer concentrate, was no longer able to work, and so I lost even more time to him.
I was recently accosted once again by an energy thief; an expatriate who has been living in this country for two years. She sent me an email stating that where she was in Botswana there were no books on gender based violence for kids that were culturally appropriate.
She had decided she would write one, using donor money to fund the project, and I should answer her long list of questions regarding publishing,
I wrote back telling her that, in fact, there are plenty of books for kids on gender based violence already published, written in Southern Africa, that are culturally appropriate.
I told her if she wanted to truly help the situation, she should rather use the donor money to buy the books that are already published. In this way, she would help our struggling writers and publishers in a more sustainable way, instead of her writing a book after being in the country for only two years and having no writing experience or knowledge of the local publishing scenario.
Now, keep in mind, this correspondence took place over two emails, after I spent my time doing research- on her behalf, using my time- and sent her links to organisations that could help her find the appropriate books. Time I might have spent writing.
She wrote back to say that she wanted to do things her way and if I was going to have “negative energy” she’d rather I leave her alone.
I was gobsmacked at her rudeness and astonishing hubris. Like before, I then allowed that anger to go on and devour even more of my time by being distracted and upset.
I know two things about these types of people. First, they believe the world is at their beck and call. They do not believe that they should be denied anything. You and your time belong to them. And working hard, and being humble when they are misguided or just plain wrong is not part of the way they operate.
You must protect yourself from these types. They will suck you dry. Even now I’m sure they rage over how I wronged them, not even hesitating to think how they might have wronged me, about how they approached me and asked for gifts- gifts of my time- from a complete stranger, and I gave it, and still they went on to abuse me in any way they saw fit.
The best way to deal with these types is to ignore them at the start, do not engage with them at all. I hope now I have finally learned this lesson.