Second Annual Report
As a slow writer who struggles to put words together, it astonishes me to discover myself writing this Second Annual Report. It certainly was a foolhardy undertaking that I set out upon two years ago on 26th August 2009 – promising to write a story every single day – but I do not regret it because it has brought me so much pleasure.
I do not quite know how to account for the more than seven hundred stories that I have published since then. In fact, I try to avoid an overview because it fills me with vertigo to contemplate how many words I have written, almost as disorienting as trying to imagine what lies ahead over the next quarter century of this endeavour. Yet the reality of this project consists always in writing today’s story and, as far as possible, I submit myself to the job in hand, which can be relied upon to provide more than sufficient challenge to fill one day.
As a child, I never understood why I could not go and speak with everybody, and I used to knock on the doors of people in my street and ask about their lives. Even now I do not know why people choose to be strangers to one another and not enter into conversations at bus stops and on transport. Fortunately, my chosen occupation permits me to fulfil my lifelong curiousity about the lives of others. And, in the last two years, I have met more people than I ever did in my life up to the moment I began writing these pen portraits, and a good many have now become friends.
Although I had some experience of writing before I commenced, these two years of contriving a story daily have changed my life. Sometimes people assume that I knock off several at once and publish them at leisure. But the truth is that I always write tomorrow’s story today, often working late into the night until it is ready.
Whenever I get the chance to look back at previous posts, I am struck how they flow one after another, as if preordained, when, in fact, I rarely know what is coming next. It is a situation that creates a certain internal drama, exciting and terrifying at the same time. While – from those already published – I may persuade myself that tomorrow’s story will appear inevitably, I get fidgety as the day fades if I have not yet begun writing, or – worse – I have not decided what I am writing about. Yet each night, when I publish my story, the drama is resolved and I can go to sleep peacefully, before waking up ready to start again.
As you will appreciate, it keeps me on my toes, with so many people to write about and you, the readers, awaiting tomorrow’s story. I recognise a constant imperative to do my subjects justice and I know I cannot disappoint you. It is a perfect situation for a writer, especially a slow writer.
I did not realise that this would be the outcome when I set out, but I am very grateful for it, because it has proved so rewarding. Years ago, when I complained of my long afternoons struggling to compose a single sentence, people used to say, “If someone put a gun to your head, couldn’t you write faster?” Now this is situation is remedied, I can answer those people by declaring, “I have found the gun!”
As I pass the two year milestone, I am going to take a moment to draw breath, celebrating this anniversary by publishing a week of favourite posts. Meanwhile, I shall take the opportunity to tidy my desk, weed the garden, sew on buttons and prepare myself to set forth again through the streets of Spitalfields. But first, I have something extraordinary planned to commemorate this auspicious moment and I must leave you here while I run off to do it. Naturally, you will read an account, as the first post opening the third year of stories on Monday 5th September.
And thus, with all these thoughts in mind, I come to the end of this second year of Spitalfields Life.
I am your loyal servant
The Gentle Author
You may also like to read the First Annual Report