Monday, 15 June 2009

Trios: Diary Of An On-Call Girl, By PC Bloggs: From Blog To Book

This is the final piece in the Trios series about Diary of an On-Call Girl: True Stories from the Front Line, the memoirs of an anonymous police officer, P. C. Bloggs. A couple of weeks ago Dan Collins, the publisher at Monday Books, discussed TV options and rights sales; last week, he looked at the importance of the right title and cover design. This final article, by P. C. Bloggs, considers the problems of writing an anonymous blog and book while still working full-time as a police officer.

P. C. Bloggs is going to be interviewed on BBC Radio 4's Woman's Hour this morning, and her book is going to be serialised on the same programme all week. You can listen to the serialisation between 10.45 and 11am each morning, Monday to Friday, and there will be a repeat each day at 7.45pm so there's no reason for you to miss it!

If there are people who join the police in order to publish a book, there must be easier ways. I didn’t become a police officer in order to get published, and nor was that why I started my blog—a therapeutic but initially light-hearted diatribe against the foibles of my work.

So when I was approached by a publisher within three weeks of my opening post I went with it, but was inwardly sceptical.

Having grown up on a diet of classic fiction, the concept of a “blook” was alien to me. But I had a lot to say about the police, and I’ve always enjoyed making people laugh, so there didn’t seem any harm in combining the two if someone was interested enough to print it.

Actually sitting down and writing it, as well as doing some publicity, and keeping myself anonymous, was another matter. At times I felt like I had two full-time jobs, and two completely separate personalities that did not overlap in any way.

There were frustrations—as a secret public sector blogger you try to reflect up-to-the-minute facts about your job, but you can’t use real life examples that are too recent in case you inadvertently identify someone. But as an author who purports to tell the exact truth, nothing but real life will do, and yet it has to be woven into some kind of coherent story.

The two skills are completely different, and keeping both going has been intellectually exhausting. I do feel, however, that I’ve clung to the principles on which I started: that the book would be true to life, true to the blog, and ultimately none of it would be taken too seriously. The whole thing has to some extent been tinged with disbelief: I didn't actually believe that the book was being published until my mother ordered it on Amazon and it arrived!

I’ve enjoyed my small successes, the opportunity to appear on radio and television, and write for broadsheet newspapers, and the fact that I have an online audience for the frustrations I can’t air at work.

But whilst writing has become a more-than-hobby, a commitment, and a passion, my job—my vocation—is as a police officer. If the two became mutually exclusive, the writing would go. Of course, the decision may not be mine: I serve two different audiences, both brutally honest about how they receive my efforts.

If one day, one or other of them tires of me, I will still look back at these years with incredulous pleasure that they lasted as long as they did.

Thanks to Monday Books' generosity we have three free copies of Diary Of An On-Call Girl to give away. If you'd like one for yourself you have to answer this question: what is PC Bloggs' day job? Email your answer to Dan at "dancollins at mondaybooks dot com" along with your address, and next Monday he'll pick three names at random to send those copies off to. It would be much appreciated if you reviewed them in a couple of places once you've read them and if you do, remember to post a link to your review here.


Jane Smith said...

I've just listened to PC Bloggs' interview on Radio Four, and to the dramatisation of her book which followed it, and am just amazed by the amount of foolishness that police officers have to endure, from members of the public, and from the police force itself: more common sense and less paperwork might well be the way to proceed.

none said...

Dan Collins just emailed to tell me I won a copy. Woot!

Helen P said...

And me too! Just need to catch up with Radio 4 now...

none said...

Here it is...ready for the cat to sit on. She always like to sit on new books!

none said...

Bad news for police bloggers: law offers no right to anonymity, according to Judge Eady:

none said...

Unmasked police blogger disciplined:

Jane Smith said...

That's dreadful, but not surprising. Thanks for letting us know, Buffy.

Anonymous said...

Judge Eady's judgement has worried some members of Police Oracle. I would like to know how he compromises the right to freedom of expression and home life with this judgement that it's in the public interest to know who the blogger is.

I would argue the opposite. It is in the public interest that bloggers like PC Bloggs and David Copperfield have protected anonymity so that they can tell us how it really is being a police officer.

I'm ashamed to say I haven't followed PC Bloggs' blog, but I read "Wasting Police Time" by David Copperfield, and it was a well-written bittersweet revelation into the life of a copper.

Richard Horton's blog has now been removed so we can't see what the fuss was about. I would have thought it in the public interest to leave it up so we can see exactly what DC Horton has been disciplined over. Now we'll never know.

One point though; it must be remembered that some bloggers are careless about retaining anonymity of the people they write about, and some officers have posted utterly inappropriate material on facebook for example. These officers let everyone down.

I dare say there are a number of police blogs which will disappear soon. What a shame, because those which are well written and informative, which "tell it like it is," are a force for good.

For a crime fiction writer (as yet unpublished, snivel sob) such blogs are an invaluable source of ideas and atmosphere.



(Sorry about the slight rant, Jane)

For some officers' reaction:-

(Word verification Perandea, a mythivcal country where i shall move to if this one goes down the pan.)

none said...

I shall watch with interest the next time the Times is asked to reveal one of its sources.

none said...

Here's a link to my review on GoodReads:

(you don't have to be a member to read it)