I am, of course, still annoyed and upset about the loss of my anonymity. Whilst it looks like the Guardian interview I did
and the Independent on Sunday article I wrote
, made the rest of the press give up on getting a ‘scoop’ on me (hurrah), the ‘naming’ of me has had some drawbacks which are a bit longer lasting than the photographers who camped out in my front garden.
Although I know I’ll find a way to deal with the intrusion into my own life, that’s not why I’m so aggrieved. The reason I wanted to remain anonymous was not because I am in any way ashamed of my lifestyle – the opposite in fact – but because I was worried that the people whom I’ve been intimate with, might recognise themselves in my writing.
I’m aware that detailing my sex life without permission from the people involved, raises lots of ethical issues; in 2004, when I began the blog, I moralised like crazy about how best I could write openly, and authentically, without invading someone else’s privacy. I did momentarily consider writing under my real name, but I realised there was no way I could be as open in my thoughts, feelings and descriptions of experiences. I’m sure many people write sex diaries with full consent given from those involved; I would argue that the veracity of the writing is compromised in these cases. Were I to have told all my lovers what I was writing about them, and have let them read it, my blog would have sounded like this:
I met a guy. He’s lovely. We went on a date and then kissed. He’s very sexy; we like each other. So we went back to his. Then we removed our clothes. He really turned me on. We had sex; it was great. Then we woke up, and went out for breakfast. We’re meeting again next week.
I might as well be typing that I had cheese on toast for breakfast this morning; there’s none of my normal psycho-socio-politico-babbling in the description of events. Not only that, there’s no critical insight, no emotional awareness and no introspective deconstruction either, which, to my mind, is what makes my writing so emotionally honest, not to mention explicit.
There’s no way I could have expounded on my thoughts if I knew a guy would be reading what I had written about him; I’m far too insecure to want a bloke to know, in such fine detail, what’s going on in my head. Unless, of course, he thinks it’s really cute that I always spill wine down my top; or he finds it adorable that I’m really clumsy; or he’s seen me first thing in the morning with my stupidly frizzy hair, and still wants to shag me rotten. But divulge my most intimate thoughts and feelings before then? Not a chance.
Hence my writing the blog - and book - anonymously: doing so gave me the freedom to write about all my obsessions, worries and neuroses, and explore them in relation to my own, personal, sex life; I could talk about people and situations and try to make sense of my feelings; I could be open about events and not worry that anyone involved would feel their privacy was violated by my talking about it. That is, until now. Now I’ve got a large chunk of my life – the most intimate part – available for all to see and know it was me
who participated in the events. Now all the people I’ve written about, disguised as they are, also have their sex lives available for all to see.
I’ve got to admit, when I got ‘outed’ by that newspaper, I was tempted to delete the entire blog immediately; it was my first instinct to want to protect the people I had written about, as well as myself. But I’m against blog-deletion: I believe that doing so, goes against ‘blogging ethics’ or destroys the ‘bloggers’ code’, or something. Plus, it would make it seem that I was ashamed or embarrassed by my writing or my life – I’m not.
So even though I had photographers camped in my garden and journalists poring through my entire blog archives and book, door-stepping my friends, looking for ‘seedy’ stuff to print about me; even though my family, friends, colleagues and ex-lovers have been reading all about my private life; even though I have had to field hundreds of enquiring calls and emails, I decided to leave my blog as it is, take a deep breath, and deal with things head on.
When a number of ex-lovers contacted me this past week, it was with some relief on my part, that the majority congratulated me - before asking, ‘who’ll play me in the movie?!’ - rather than stating, ‘I’m really upset by what you said’. I’ve never been purposely derogatory or bitchy about the people I’ve slept with; it was the invasion of their privacy I was worried they’d be hurt by. Which is why I disguised so many of their personal details: I wanted to protect them from any embarrassment or distress.
It’s possibly too late for that now; the book has gone into its third printing; the blog has been read by, er, millions. So all I can say to the people who might feel affected by all this is, sorry. When I started this blog, I never knew I’d be here, two and a half years later, with a book out. I certainly never thought that anyone buying it would know my real name: I took great steps to ensure I remained anonymous (including the use of confidentiality agreements where necessary).
I may be happy about the current success of my writing, but it’s come at a very
personal price: other peoples, as well as my own, privacy. The blog, and book, were never meant to be a ‘kiss and tell’; I regret that my being thrust into the limelight has possibly made it appear so. For that, I am truly sorry. Looks like the beers will be on me, for quite a while, chaps.