A Path to Hope Again

burns01 So, 67K into Harmony, I understand that what the book needs is for me to rip out a lot of the unnecessary byroads and tighten up the timeline. This book has been an education in writing around the problem and finding out what the whole damn thing is about eighty percent of the way through, and I am so goddamn glad I’m not sending it in for publication. It’s a hot mess, and I’m going to spend this morning’s run deciding whether to go back and rip everything out OR finish it and another book during NaNo. Or, just finish it and use NaNo for half the first draft of Afterwar.

Choices, choices.

I’m pretty sure that the Harmony realization has a component of procrastination in it, too. Several factors are combining to give me a crushing crisis of confidence (try saying that ten times in a row) and last week was a blur of forcing myself to get out of bed, forcing myself to eat, forcing myself to shower daily. My normal response to debilitating depression and overwhelming anxiety is normally to work harder, to exhaust myself so I can finally sleep. It’s kind of a change to exhibit some of the more classic symptoms, and if not for the meds I suspect things would get much more dire. It’s so goddamn strange to know one is exhibiting the symptoms, to know that it’s dangerous, and to at the same time be so occupied with the simple work of breathing one does not care and cannot reliably summon the energy to do what one must.

Fortunately, the meds blunted the edge, and the habit of having no-one else to rely on prodded and forced me up and moving. I’m also aware that a relapse can happen just when one starts feeling the worst is over. Part of me speaking publicly about these struggles is demystification, normalization, and the plain acknowledgement that having a brain that tries to do you in with uneven chemical responses is not a personal failing. (It also helps for me to say it out loud, so to speak.) It is a Thing That Happens, no more and no less, and you are not weak or broken or stupid because it happens to you. You are struggling to survive in the face of a Thing That Happens, and that is a very human act.

So that’s my handing out sticks for the day. I’ll take one for myself, thank you. Next I have to let Miss B prod me out the door for a short run–my ankle is still tender, and she’s still trying to break the other one to make me lame on both sides, being a great fan of symmetry. But the exercise will do me good, it will take the edge off her fidgets, and I might find a path to hope again out there in the windy day that is making the trees dance.

Over and out.

Refuge In Any Place

Ramble roam

I’m back!

This past week was upsetting. Someone I love very much is in hospice care. Supporting others and struggling to remember to bathe, eat, and get out of bed has been eating up most of my emotional reserves this week.

More rambles in the wet woods are called for. Just to get out of the house and move. And more writing, even if I spend more time sitting and staring at squiggles on the screen, trying to remember they’re words. Seeking refuge in any place it may be found, whether inside my head or out among moss-covered rocks with Miss B.

Over and out.

Tired, Cranky, Sore

ugh The cold is fighting for supremacy inside my body; my immune system is hunting it down and just barely managing to stay on top. Consequently I’m tired, bloody cranky, and sore all over. I could only get four and a half running miles in yesterday, which irritated the life out of me. Even the returning rains aren’t managing to cheer me. Getting wordcount was like chipping marble with a toothpick, and to top it all off, I think I’m getting a detox effect from drinking a gallon of water a day. Even if it’ll help my body hose off all my mucus surfaces (that’s what snot does, really, pressure-washes your internal driveways) it’s still…itchy.

Super itchy. All over. Like stress hives–not as unpleasant, really, because my throat swells during those. But still annoying.

Despite all that, I made wordcount, and today’s prognosis is good even though I’m forced to take a day off running, again. At least the bees have stopped crawling out of my hair and cleavage since the weather is cooler, and the time I’d spend running will be spent producing additional words. So far I’m hoping to get the second half of Harmony done for NaNo–that’s 50K to add to the 50K I’ve already got–and at least getting a skeleton zero of the zombie apocalypse book before I have to shift completely to Afterwar. I’m not spending working time on the latter until the contract arrives, because if I’m going to kill myself working on a gigantic project, I need to be getting paid for the wear and tear on my nerves.

I mean, I’d write the trilogy anyway, but it would take a loooooong time fitting it around other projects. *sigh*

If you’re thinking all three of these seem longer than my usual run of zero drafts, you’re right. It appears the next step in my growth as a writer is attempting longer, more complex stories. 100K zero drafts instead of 60-70. I vacillate between “wow, this will be great” and “OH MY GOD LILI WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO YOURSELF STOP STOP IT NOW.” On the bright side, my agent is thrilled and happy. I guess that’ll have to be enough.

Time for me to shuffle to the kitchen and make some herbal tea for my throat, and fill up my water glass. I want to drown this cold quickly so I can get back to running tomorrow. I’m twitchy from not enough sweat, and added to the full nose and raw throat, it’s making me snappish. Which is good for tormenting my characters, but hardly pleasant out in meatspace.

Over and out.

Squirl Swim

squirl swim

That spate of hundred-degree days that gave us the Saga of the Heat-Crazed, Gargoyle-Murdering Squirl prompted me to do something I said I would never, ever in a million years even consider.

“Put out some water for them,” a kind commenter said. “They’ll love you forever.”

While the latter half of that advice is extremely questionable, the former just seemed like a decent thing to do. After all, if I was thirsty all day, the little rodent fucks probably were too. My compassion thus appealed to and my good sense suppressed by the broiling, I set out some water for the squirrels.

Who ended up having an orgy in their new swimming pool. No, I won’t describe it fully. Just know that whatever you’re imagining, it was a hundred times more uncomfortable to witness. Apparently, what the commenter meant was, with access to a swimming hole, they’ll love each other forever.

I still haven’t drained the damn thing. I just don’t want to touch it.

Blue Checkmark Blues

Oh, Twitter. You’re so funny.

Remember the Twitter impersonator incident from 2014? Since then, every once in a while, I report harassment or impersonation of me on Twitter just to see what will happen. (Yes, there are impersonators. Which somewhat mystifies me, but at least one of them is a stalker, so…yeah. Anyway.) When I report harassment, exactly nothing beyond a form reply rejecting my complaint happens.

When reporting impersonation, however, the form letter comes with a demand for something very specific: a readable picture of my driver’s license or passport.

Twitter’s insistence on this particular piece of information–state-issued photo ID–is perplexing in more ways than one. Ever since 2014, they’ve been asking me for it. I write back explaining why I won’t be sending one, and giving links to my website, my official FB, my verified Amazon Author pages, my Goodreads page, all clearly sporting links to my Twitter account. Since I wouldn’t turn over a scan or fax of my sensitive personal information because their implied handling of such data in 2014 was questionable at best and they have not actively sought to regain my trust since, they issue a form rejection of my complaint, and when I respond to the form rejection with another explanation, I get back a form letter saying the support case is closed and further replies will be sent to to an unmonitored address.

Charming, isn’t it?

Now, when they opened up verification a little while ago, I figured I’d try it out, just to see if the horrendous parts of the process had been fixed. I figured I’d play at least part of the game, however, and sent in the links to my website, my Amazon Author pages, my Goodreads author page and Facebook fan page–you get the idea–all with clear links to my Twitter profile, and, bonus, a scan of my driver’s license with the number, my birthdate, and my address blacked out. I held out no great hope.

Well, on August 8th I received a form letter rejection, and when I wrote back asking how my profile/bio didn’t meet the requirements for verification, the email bounced. It wasn’t quite as classy as the unmonitored email address ploy, but perhaps they were losing patience with my gadfly self.

Imagine my surprise when, after a very clear rejection, this landed in my inbox earlier today:

FROM: Twitter Support
TO: contact@lilithsaintcrow.com
Case#*REDACTED* RE: Verification Request for @lilithsaintcrow

.
Hello,

We received your request to verify @lilithsaintcrow.

We need to confirm the identity of the account owner in order to further investigate this request. Please provide a copy of their valid photo ID (e.g. driver’s license or passport) within 48 hours of receiving this email.

If the legal name does not match the stage/artist name, please include a letter from the management company stating the following:

The legal name stated on the official identification provided is the authorized account holder of @lilithsaintcrow.
Please scan and upload the required documentation using the following link:
*LINK REDACTED*

We must be able to see the full name and photo, so please try to send a legible copy. This information will be kept confidential, and will be deleted once we have used it to confirm their identity.

Reply to this email to let us know once you’ve uploaded the documentation. We appreciate your patience and cooperation in this matter.

Thanks,

Twitter Support

Reference *REDACTED*
Help
Twitter, Inc. 1355 Market Street, Suite 900 San Francisco, CA 94103

I’ve redacted the link, case number, and reference number above for obvious reasons.

So, just to get this straight, they rejected my verification request outright, bounced my request for further explanation, and are STILL, after all this, determined to get their hands on my driver’s license. They do say the information will be kept confidential, yet how can I trust their policies won’t be changed in the future? “Will be deleted” once you’ve used it to confirm? Why not just spend the two seconds to google me or for God’s sake, READ THE REPLIES AND THE APPLICATION I SENT YOU? Wouldn’t that be easier than me sending personal, sensitive information to a company that exists to sell user’s eyeballs to the highest bidder?

I mean, yes, Twitter is convenient as all get-out and it’s really great for interacting with fans, and it’s ubiquitous right now, but let’s not think this service is offered out of the goodness of any Silicon Valley bro’s heart, okay?

However, being just enough of a contrarian, and being just irritated enough, to try again for the purposes of blogging about the whole damn thing, I sent a reply. Here it is:

Dear Sir/Madam,

As I have told Twitter multiple times, this is unnecessary and somewhat insulting, especially after I was impersonated on Twitter in back in 2014. (I wrote about it here: Then, I was told that harassers and impersonators could gain access to whatever information I gave Twitter. Your assurance that the data will be deleted is not sufficient for me to risk my safety or the safety of my family.

I am a New York Times Bestselling author. Here are (a few of the many) places where my official Twitter account is referenced and linked to:

My website: http://www.lilithsaintcrow.com

My Facebook and Facebook fan page: https://www.facebook.com/lilithsaintcrow https://www.facebook.com/pages/Lilith-Saintcrow/172118402032

My Goodreads page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/131208.Lilith_Saintcrow

My Amazon Author Pages: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B002BLOSOU http://www.amazon.com/Lili-St.-Crow/e/B002TN3418/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

However, I am fully expecting to receive another form letter rejecting me for verification, like the one I received a few weeks ago (on August 8, to be precise) when I initially requested verification. I have no idea why you are asking for sensitive personal information again after initially rejecting me and ignoring my request for further information about said rejection.

Best,

Lilith Saintcrow

I added the NYT Bestselling thing because my agent tells me it shows I’m Serious.

Now, why am I bothering, especially since I might not even take verification when offered? Because this has irritated the bejesus out of me. Twitter is a complete and utter mess when it comes to dealing with harassment, despite Randi Lee Harper’s clear, cheap, and effective fixes, which she’s offered for free. Also, their insistence on getting hold of critical personal information about me is thought-provoking, to say the least. Why are they so set on gaining this information? What happens to it when their policies change?

Someone remarked to me that the company Just Doesn’t Get It, “it” being harassment. I don’t think that’s strictly true. I think they get it, but it’s not profitable to care. So, Twitter doesn’t.

*gets out the popcorn* I’ll probably get another form letter in response.

I can hardly wait.

ETA: Well, I didn’t have to wait long. Another form email, exactly the same as the one above, landed in my inbox at 5:23pm. *gets more popcorn*

ETA 8/25/16: I just received this email back from Twitter Support.

FROM: Twitter Support
TO: contact@lilithsaintcrow.com
Case#*REDACTED* RE: Verification Request for @lilithsaintcrow

Hi,

Thanks for the followup email. Unfortunately, we are unable to verify you if you are unable to provide the required documentation. Thank you for understanding.

Thanks,

Twitter Support

http://support.twitter.com
@Support

Reference *REDACTED*

WELL. THERE IT IS THEN. *melts more butter* *screeches with laughter* I wrote back. Of course I did.

Dear Sir/Madam,

So, you mean to say that despite my concerns about stalking, harassment, and impersonation, and despite the fact that you can verify that @lilithsaintcrow is my official Twitter account by a few moments spent on my website, my verified Amazon Author page, and my official Facebook, despite the fact that this email address is clearly my official one, you cannot “verify” me unless I hand over sensitive personal data I cannot trust you to guard responsibly due to your track record? This is what you’re saying. If there’s another explanation, please, enlighten me.

Best,

Lilith Saintcrow

I see two options here. Either Twitter wants my driver’s license information because they plan to monetize it in some fashion later down the line, OR they don’t have the staff to run verification properly, which means they don’t have enough staff to handle the data properly. What happens when they’re hacked? They say they delete the information just after they use it, but really? Once it’s on their servers, I’m just supposed to trust them? Especially when they were very clear back in 2014 that they reserved the right to share a scan of my driver’s license with someone I had reason to believe was a stalker who had already threatened me? Neither of these options induce me to a great deal of confidence.

So. No blue ticky-check for me. I’m not even sure I’d take it, were they to suddenly pay attention and offer one. Marginalized folks, and people at risk of harassment, or people who are ALREADY being harassed, are not served well by this, and I would caution them to reconsider verification. Either it’s a data grab, or they don’t have the staff to keep that sensitive data safe. I don’t want to risk it, I won’t give out information that can possibly impact the safety of my family, and I really, really urge everyone considering verification to think about this.

‘Nuff said.

Squirl Overheat

[SCENE: Ninety-plus degrees outside, but relatively cool inside. At the dinner table, chez Saintcrow. Behind the Little Prince is the French door to the deck. Our view out said French door is captured above.]

Me: [checks to make sure I’m wearing shoes] What the…
Princess: Uh…is that normal?
Little Prince: What? [turns around in chair] Oh, wow. Is it dead?
Princess: I don’t know.
Me: I can’t see if it’s breathing.
Princess: So, um, we’re just going to eat dinner with that right there?
Me: God protect us.
Miss B: [under the table] What? Food for the dog?
Odd Trundles: [sitting on our side of the French door, blissfully oblivious] Food for the dog? Food?

[Overheated Squirrel twitches.]

Me: JESUS CHRIST.
Little Prince: [dropping fork] WHAT?
Princess: It moved! It moved!
Dogs: FOOD? FOOD FOR THE DOGS?
Me: Everyone just stay calm. Are we all wearing shoes?
Princess: Mom, it’s outside.
Me: THAT MEANS NOTHING.

The squirrel was alive. After a little while, as if it could hear us, it leapt to its feet and regarded us, sideways-baleful in that way only prey animals can manage. The kids were delighted. I was definitely NOT. Why, you ask?

Because I had to take the dogs out after dinner. And chances were, the squirrel was going to be there.

Waiting.

TO BE CONTINUED…

A Long Weekend

sixstringsamuraiicon It’s Friday again. I would have a Friday photo for you, but things are a little topsy-turvy here right at the moment. I am having to carry a fifty-pound dog down the stairs for loo breaks. It’s a grand workout, and this is the dog with sense enough to stay still during the entire operation, but still.

What happened? Well, yesterday I had to answer the door.

Perhaps I should explain.

Neither dog can be trusted when I have to do so, but Odd Trundles can’t make it down the inside stairs. (This gives the cats someplace to go to escape his exuberance. If he ever finds out they’re perfectly navigable there will be FURRY HELL TO PAY OMG.) So the thing to do has become to put both dogs in my bedroom, which smells like me (and like them, let’s be honest, because that T-shirt that says “Sleeps With Dogs”? That’s me.) and does not hold anything that can harm them.

Unfortunately, Miss B was Very Excited at the prospect of SOMEONE AT THE DOOR. She dealt with this excitement by throwing herself at the bedroom door.

What I think happened next was that Odd, who had been napping on my bed (look, just don’t ask) got excited by all Miss B’s excitement, and made a beeline at whatever she was trying to get at. He relies on her to tell him what to do almost every minute of the day, including when to breathe and where to pee.

SO. I think Miss B landed on Odd. As a cushion, he leaves a little to be desired. He’s built like a brick shithouse, really, and not much can damage him, but brick shithouses are not pillows.

I closed the front door and heard a yelp. It activated the Mother Circuit in my head–you know, the one that flips when you realize your child has been Too Quiet For Too Long, or when you hear an “I’m hurt” noise, which is totally different than “I’m having a meltdown over not riding in the grocery cart” or “I am too tired for this shit” or even “MOM HE’S BREATHING ON ME!” noises. I all but teleported up the stairs, and the first Wrong Thing I encountered was Odd Trundles on the other side of my bedroom door, wiggling and pleased with himself but very baffled, since he is rarely allowed to be the first to greet me.

Miss B was holding one of her back paws up, and looking at me with a similar baffled expression. Then she put it down, picked it back up, and hopped three-legged towards me.

“Oh, fuck,” I said.

As far as I can tell nothing is broken. She is putting some weight on the leg and the bones are all in the right place; the entire leg moves as a whole with no floppiness and she has regular range of motion in all the joints. Her paw is a bit swollen but she lets me palpate each toe, so I think there’s nothing broken in there, she just landed wrong and sprained something. If she’s still limping tomorrow, it will be time for a vet visit I probably won’t be able to afford right now.

But today, I am carrying her up and down the stairs out back when she needs to pee. There will be no running for her, for the foreseeable future. Which is just going to be all sorts of fun if she can’t work off her nerves. And Odd Trundles, trying to be helpful, is chewing up the coir mat at the entrance of my office, because he has no clue what to do when Miss B isn’t bossing him, and this is the best he can come up with.

I said it yesterday, and I’ll say it again.

It’s gonna be a loooooong weekend.