2013 has been an odd year. It's the year I've finally found my feet as a writer - come out and been proud of what I do, even if what I write isn't to everybody's taste. It's also a year in which I've made contact with a lot of old friends.
Facebook - for all its issues and reputation - is a marvellous tool. I browse around groups and pages, find a thread and pull ... and suddenly there are people I haven't spoken to in over 25 years. Friends from university, girlfriends, boyfriends - and I rummage through their photos online (doesn't everybody do this?) and I realise that I wouldn't recognise some of these people if I walked past them on the street. These are men and women I was close to for many years, some of whom shared huge parts of my life. And I wonder how I look to them now. Have I changed as much as they have?
Anybody who reads the Daily Mail will have heard of their columnist Liz Jones. Over the years, she's recorded her life, warts and all, in the back of one of the colour supplements. It's a diary of sorts, detailing everything, and often in far more detail than can be considered decent - especially when she's talking about friends, boyfriends and lovers. Rarely names - but sometimes scandal gets out.
How far can you go with that, I wonder? Everybody blogs these days; celebrities and nonentities alike enjoy recording their lives and dreams for all the world to see. Can you blog about real people, like Liz Jones does? Record their achievements and failings in black and white forever? It doesn't seem decent to me. Sometimes I think I'd like to write about events in my life that have made me who I am, but that might involve other people and is it fair to them? What if I inadvertently revealed secrets they've kept for years?
And what of photographs? Copyright of photos belongs to the photographer, but can you post pictures online of other people without their permission? Let's say I wanted to write about some (entirely fictional) person I shared a flat with in my youth. Would that infringe their privacy? I really have no idea where free speech ends. And so I say nothing, simply write about me and keep anything else as pure fiction ...