From writer to publicist
January 10, 2014 by Thomas Wictor
I’ve never made a New Year’s resolution. Well, 2014 is different. My resolution is to make someone famous. Not just anyone; a specific someone. I’m going from writer to publicist.
Though I always wanted to be a writer—a professional writer whose work sold—I don’t think it’ll happen. My experiences with Ghosts and Ballyhoo show that despite my best efforts, not much has changed since I was gaslighted at Bass Player back in the late nineties. I attract predators. Even worse, I’m attracted to them.
The only way I could be a successful writer would be if I had protectors who went over everything before I committed myself.
(I probably should commit myself, but not until I’ve fulfilled my resolution to make someone famous.)
The irony is I can write. And I have lots to say. But sometimes the Zeitgeist isn’t right, your material doesn’t have mass appeal, you’re too far outside the mainstream as a person, the things you say are too threatening, and you keep doing this to yourself.
I understand my motivations enough to recognize that the disaster of Ghosts and Ballyhoo isn’t some elaborate, ritualized act of self-sabotage. I’ve known and am related to many self-saboteurs. That’s not me. It was fun being interviewed, and I liked the fact that Ghosts made more money than all my other books combined. I really wanted to succeed. Most of us don’t get to live our dreams, so this isn’t a big deal.
My plan is to become an investor who dabbles in writing, rather than a writer who invests. I’ll finish Hallucinabulia: The Dream Diary of an Unintended Solitarian and Assault Troops of World War I: the Central, Allied, and Neutral Powers. I’m actually excited about the latter title, since I finally figured out how to work in the endnotes. Each chapter has a divisional order of battle (OOB) down to the squad level, but I had to build some OOBs from about twenty to thirty sources each. All those footnotes were distracting and clumsy.
The new endnote configuration has made me psyched about the project again. It’ll be my masterwork and swan song in the military field. After that, I have some novels I want to write.
And I probably will write them. It’s just that writing professionally is now like voting. My heart isn’t in it anymore. I told all you bastards at Talkbass that this book would bring me nothing but grief. Did you listen? No.
“Write us a book, Tom! All your stories should be in a book! Please! We’ll eat you up, we love you so!”
So I wrote it, but I got eaten up anyway, as I figured I would.
I still have to fulfill my pledge to become a publicist.
See, here’s what happened: I was under far more stress than I realized. On January 8, the same day I learned that I’m still a clown, my doctor told me that the most stressful event in a person’s life is a death in the family. Let’s review.
1. I had two deaths in the family.
2. Both deaths were suicides.
3. Both suicides were my parents.
4. Both parents panicked and died in terror, which I witnessed.
5. After my parents died, I discovered that the circumstances of my birth are so awful that now I wish I’d never been born. The cost to my parents and to me was not worth the benefits of the clarity and happiness I achieved. I would rather have skipped this cycle. My parents should’ve given me up for adoption. Barring that, they should’ve gotten themselves a retroactive abortion. I’m sure some bruja in the forest would’ve done it for them. And me.
6. My family produced almost nothing but suffering.
7. The prolonged suicides of my parents only intensified their own suffering and that of their children.
8. There’s no such thing as “closure,” except in reference to doors. Mom and Dad will haunt me forever.
9. My post-traumatic stress disorder with secondary psychotic features (PTSD-SP) flared up without me knowing it. I reached my limit and disassociated, and I made decisions while in a dreamlike trance state.
10. Parental deaths make dysfunctional families worse, not better.
And this is why I’m becoming a publicist. The person I’m going to make famous used the ten things I listed above to fleece me of close to $40,000. My nightly posts were a guide, as were our conversations and a ten-part video blog I made about Dad’s death. At some point I’ll publish those videos so you can see for yourself what I experienced in 2013. You’ll be able to contrast my behavior with that of the person I’m going to make famous.
I had many reasons to hate my father. Here’s just one.
About twelve years ago, Dad decided to take out the grass in the parkway in front of his house and replant it with succulents. He dragooned Eric and me into helping him. The plan was to dig out the dirt in which the grass had rooted, sift the dirt, put it back into the concrete-rimmed parkway, and then “screed” it. I didn’t know what it meant to screed something. I thought a screed was what I’m writing at this moment.
It turns out that to screed meant to take a plank, get on all fours, and shove the plank over the concrete edges of the parkway, bulldozing the earth flat before the succulents were planted. Like all of Dad’s plans, it was demented. As a man in his late thirties, however, I knew it would be impossible to talk Dad out of doing things his way and his way only. I also didn’t want Eric to do all the work alone. So I pitched in.
Dad refused to let us dig deep enough to take out all the roots of the grass. He got impatient, as he always did. This meant that in a few weeks, the grass would regrow. It would sprout up in amongst the succulents and be impossible to remove, much like the cancer that killed Dad in 2013 and which he hid for five years. Thus even at the beginning of the project, I knew were were all wasting our time.
When it came time to screed the mounds of sifted dirt and grass roots flat, Eric had trouble because he’s a bicyclist. His power is in his legs, not his upper body. Since the screeding didn’t work, I took a shovel and began patting the earth flat.
“Don’t do that!” Dad shouted. “Use the screed!”
I stopped and said, “Well, the problem is that the screed isn’t working. I think what we need to do is—”
Dad interrupted me: “Why don’t you just quit, Tom?” He said it like this.
That was how he habitually spoke to me my entire life. On this day he addressed me that way while I held a shovel in my hand. I came within a fraction of a second of ringing Dad’s bell with my shovel and then planting him in his fucking parkway. But I knew Eric wouldn’t agree with these actions, so instead of swinging my shovel into my father’s smirking mask of contempt, I went and got Tim to help us screed.
Tim said my face was purple when I approached him. It was literally plum colored.
My father despised me, pure and simple. It was the hand I was dealt. My mother despised me too, except for the last three years of her life. The fact that I had nothing whatsoever to do with the circumstances of my birth didn’t enter the equation. Neither of my parents were capable of addressing the actual problem, so they displaced their anger onto me.
When Dad lost his mind due to the terror he felt at finally being held accountable for his many crimes and sins, I cared for him. Never once did I raise my voice, mistreat him, or avenge myself. And as he lay on his deathbed, writhing and panting, I sincerely forgave him after he indicated his remorse. I ate all the injustice, because I was given a choice: Ease his pain or refuse. I know the source of Dad’s pain. What I did was break a family tradition that went back millenia.
Why do I write about this? Because I’m sure it’ll come out anyway. The person I’m going to make famous will regurgitate everything I confessed. I’ll be characterized as mentally ill.
Guess what? I am mentally ill. What do you think PTSD-SP is, the sniffles? No, the grifters knew exactly what I am. You should’ve seen the praise heaped on me for my courage, my grace, my dignity. Most traces have been eliminated. Most. Some survive. Like this, for example.
I just wanted to say thank you for giving me such a hysterical, yet thought-provoking memoir to read and promote, for the (occasionally) outlandish Basecamp comments and for being such an absolute pleasure to work with. I really, truly appreciate it. Thanks so much again, Tom.
Anybody who wants to do their own coverage of this very interesting story can ask a simple question.
“May we see the Thomas Wictor Basecamp records?”
It was all there. Such caring! Such admiration! Aaaaaaaand…the entire methodology used to extract as much money as possible when the dupe is experiencing collapse on almost every level. That’s why the Basecamp records probably won’t see the light of day ever again. No problem. There are things that still exist that are now in the hands of others. I could drop dead tomorrow, but it won’t stop what’s going to happen.
You know what else I have going for me? Published books. My client, on the other hand, has absolutely no history in the publishing field. No record whatsoever except for me. I’ll offer up what I got for $40,000: one newspaper interview, one magazine interview, three radio interviews less than ten minutes long, and three reviews. When the outraged shouts of “LIES! ALL LIES!” begin, keep that in mind.
Seven months, $40,000, one newspaper interview, one magazine interview, three radio interviews less than ten minutes long, and three reviews.
The person I’m going to make famous targeted someone who’s had a life of pure hell. Except for three years, my existence in this cycle has been nothing but suffering. The client for whom I will do my pro bono publicity work knew full well that my experiences have given me PTSD-SP, and that the brain fog from the Meniere’s disease makes all forms of thought difficult when I’m under stress.
It was because of my suffering and impairment that I was chosen. Not only that, things were done to increase my stress. This is a story that will be told in precise detail. With lots and lots of evidence. I’ll sing like a little canary. My client counted on me to be so ashamed that I’d slink away in silence. Instead, I’ll work my tail off to create one of the most famous people in the United States.
From this point on, I dedicate myself to garnering for my client the recognition that his achievements deserve.
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