I think that Iíve finally learned my lessonówriters cannot be organised. Itís much easier to herd cats than to get writers to a certain place, at a certain time, for a certain activity.
Admittedly anyone who has worked with me knows I prefer the world be an organised place where when something is supposed to happen it happens. Perhaps this inflexibility is a flaw. If a meeting is scheduled for a certain time and I say I can attend, I attend, unless I’m nearly dead, and sometimes even then. If I say I’m going to do something, I do it. But I’ve found that these traits are not so common among writers, I might be a bit of an oddball. Maybe my oddball perspective is the problem here, I don’t know.
For some years I was on the executive of the Writers Association of Botswana (WABO). It’s always been clear to me that the writers we have in Botswana are mostly inexperienced and not well-versed on the ins and outs of publishing and writing. This has hindered them from having very much solid success.
So at WABO one of the important aspects for me was education. The executive held workshops in Gaborone inviting various resource people who spoke on different aspects of writing and publishing. Surprisingly, despite the fact that I get nearly daily emails and messages asking very basic publishing questions, few writers could get themselves to these workshops. This was quite disappointing.
After leaving WABO, I was told one of the problems was money, and that many very interested writers could not travel to Gaborone for these workshops. So I decided I should perhaps start a club for writers in Mahalapye. It would be closer for writers in the area.
It took some time to get started, but I finally did it.
I tried to get the word out all over: in this column, fliers around Mahalapye, on social media. I had people contacting me, even coming to my house, saying that for sure they wanted be part of the club.
At the first meeting, we had six people; none of them were people who had contacted me before the meeting promising that they would attend. The second meeting we had an attendance of zero not counting me.
I thought, fair enough, if writers have no use for a club, I’m fine with that. I was only offering help and I have all sorts of things to do on a Saturday afternoon. So I thought it would die a natural death and that would be the end of it.
Almost as soon as I made that decision, people started contacting me asking when the next meeting was.
I told them there was no next meeting. They begged me please to give it another go. People really needed this club. They would come. They would bring their friends.
I said okay fine. No problem. I will try it once more. If people are there, we continue, but if no one comes, then it’s over.
So I pitch up at the venue. I play exactly one full Sit and Go poker tournament on my phone, taking 30 minutes, and not a single person appears. So I go back home.
Honestly, I have no problem with this situation. In general, I have hermit-tendencies and prefer not to do such things. I just felt I should make an effort especially since I said I would.
So, there is still the column that hopefully goes some way to educate writers about how to get on in this business.
I hope it helps to bridge the gap in knowledge, helps new writers to avoid some common mistakes, and guides them to find ways to navigate this sometimes dangerous and often demoralising writing world. But I think I’m done now with trying to organise writers. I’ve tried, and I’ve failed. Time to move on to easier things.