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Monday, August 06, 2007


Today marks a year to the day that the Sunday Times newspaper ran a news story ‘outing’ me as the author of Girl with a one-track mind.

Remembering this day last year, I could blog about how it affected my family, with both my parents fearing the loss of their earnings and reputation.

I could talk about how I was the laughing stock at work; everyone in the UK film industry knowing and discussing the most intimate details of my sex life.

I could talk about how I had to go into hiding and how for a week, the tabloids poked their long-lens cameras through my parents’ letter-box and rang their doorbell and telephone constantly, making both me and my parents live in a state of anxiety.

I could talk about how profoundly I was affected by the articles on me, both in the media and online; how I wanted to challenge the lies, misrepresentations and personal attacks, but couldn’t.

I could talk about how I rejected money from the gutter press for an “exclusive”, because I didn’t ask to be in the limelight; and then resorted to do an interview with the Guardian in the hope that it would make the tabloids disappear from my and my parents' doorsteps (it did).

I could talk about how I wasn’t made rich by the book and that losing my film career as a result of it made me worry that I wouldn’t be able to pay my rent.

I could talk about how my friends were offered money to spill the ‘dirt’ on me and people from my past suddenly reappeared in my life, making me paranoid that I couldn’t trust anyone.

I could talk about how I lost all my confidence, becoming a recluse for some months; fearing getting intimate with anyone again.

I could talk about the hate-mail I received; the malicious comments; the vitriol people chose to send my way and how it did in fact get to me, even though I tried to have a thick skin.

But if I did talk about these things on the blog, then people would accuse me of feeling sorry for myself and trying to court sympathy. I can understand how it may look that way, but it’s far from the truth: by mentioning these events, I am just stating facts, nothing more.

So instead, I could talk about positive things on the blog: how well the book has done; that it’s sold over 140,000 copies of the UK edition; how proud I am that it’s still consistently selling well each week, a year on from publication.

I could talk about how thrilling it was, getting my first paid writing commission for a newspaper and how I was simultaneously proud of that, but also relieved, because it meant my bills for the next month were covered.

I could talk about how chuffed I felt when I received emails from book readers new to the blog, who told me my writing resonated with, or helped them in some way.

I could talk about how amused I have been that a large handful of production companies have approached me to make a film about my “story”, starring me; it is especially humorous and ironic, given the loss of my previous career behind the camera.

I could talk about how honoured I am to be asked my opinion on sexuality and feminism, in the press, on the radio and speaking in public and how grateful I am to have the opportunity to discuss these things in a more mainstream forum than my blog.

But if I did talk about these things on the blog, people would accuse me of being a narcissist, of being self-absorbed, of craving publicity. My rebuttal: that I’ve been unwillingly thrust into this position and feel I should continue to speak out to uphold my beliefs and to stand up for other women who are derogatorily labelled because of their sexuality, would fall on deaf ears. Plus, it’s hard to embrace your achievements in public without sounding like you are full of yourself.

So instead, perhaps I could talk about every-day things, like my personal life; after all, this is what the blog has mostly been about.

I could talk about how all my ex-lovers contacted me, concerned that I had disguised them fully; all of them now aware of my previous (hidden) feelings about them.

I could talk about how I lost all my confidence with men; that face-to-face I was terrified and totally self-conscious.

I could talk about how I then decided to give online-dating another go, only to discover that somehow every man I got into conversation with/ended up on a date with, knew that I was ‘Abby Lee’ and was a fan of the blog, making me immediately scarper in the other direction because I felt so vulnerable.

I could talk about how almost all the men I’ve met and/or been intimate with have asked me not to write about them, even when we’ve had no more than a pint together.

I could talk, in explicit detail, about all the hot (or not) sex I’ve had, but feel too exposed now that everyone knows who I am and my friends, colleagues and acquaintances all read the blog.

I could talk about all these things on the blog if I were still anonymous. But I’m not.

My ‘outing’ last year was a huge strain on me and yes, I have managed to find a silver lining out of it, but the ability to freely do the one thing that gave me such pleasure – blogging – has been destroyed. Take the anonymity away from a blogger who depends on it and you get a blog with no heart: true sincerity and authenticity about events, people, thoughts and feelings rely on anonymity. I'll challenge anyone who says that anonymity shouldn’t matter when someone’s writing about their own life. It does.

People have suggested I should have quit the blog when I was ‘outed’. Perhaps I should have; maybe I should now – it’s certainly not giving me the same catharsis as it once did, which was the main reason I wrote it. Mainly though, when I have the time to blog, I do still enjoy it, even if people complain that it is “not what it once was”. Well, blame the Sunday Times for that…

It may sound like I am spending today feeling morbid about the last year. I’m not, but nor am I celebrating the past 12 months either. Instead, I’m taking an optimistic outlook about it all and feeling energised about the fact that today, on the anniversary of my ‘outing’, the proposal for my second book is in. I can’t wait to get stuck in to writing it, not only because I think it will be a great book, but also because it will be my way of sticking my two fingers up at the backstabbing Sunday Times and saying, fuck you, you haven’t managed to shut up this “shameless” “seedy” “slut” yet – and nor will you.

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