last updated 1 March 2020


About writing the book series


What was my approach to writing the book version of the daydream?

Writing the easy town book series - first drafts - easy town idea
An early draft for the Easy Town idea, from 2012

The idea to write down the daydream came unexpected. But once once writing it was on the table, I was all in.

My first step was to make as many notes as possible, and as fast as possible since I was afraid of forgetting too much.

I started with notes for year 7 and worked my way from the end to the start of the story. The first chapter of the last book is the first scene I wrote.

Criss-crossing

At some point I began to criss-cross, going from year 5 to year 1, back to year 7 and so on. There were three reasons for that. One, in a daydream you always push forward. You don’t plan, or intent, or develop. On the contrary: you just stroll down the next alley and see what happens. Sometimes you realise that you need a new character in a scene, and the character just pops up. Now, for a book version, I wanted to be a bit more thorough. So, when I criss-crossed, I made sure that characters and events would have an origin in the story and not just appear out of the blue.

Another reason for the criss-crossing was that some of the subjects needed a timeline of their own and were added to several parts of the story.

And sometimes, I was tired of subjects and went to a more adventurous part of the story for a break.

In between, I started to write book 1.

From January 2017 on, I had to work a lot. In that period I occasionally added notes, sometimes influenced by the news, but I didn’t have time to continue to write.

Summer tour

At the beginning of July 2017, I did a cycling-tour south of Berlin to visit differently-sized towns and to get a better idea of what a town with 5,000 inhabitants feels like compared to a town with 20,000 people. This tour also provided me with some additional ideas on town planning, architecture, and life in a town.

Criss-crossing again

It wasn’t before August 2017 that I had the opportunity to properly sit down again and write. By then, I had some four notebooks filled, all of which needed to be added to the different book files. I used the next five month to criss-cross the story again. In that period I filled gaps, established further connections between the different parts of the story, and added many subject files, chronology files, reference files, calculations, maps, drafts, and sketches – both for the story and on topics.

Finishing book 1

In January 2018 I started finalising and editing book 1. From April on I had to focus on other jobs again, and it was only at the end of August 2018 that I had enough time to finish book 1 and to set up the website for the book. Book 1 was published on 28 September 2018.

The edition process was tough, and in the end I dropped around 200 pages from the first draft. I keep reminding myself that there are still enough books to come to pick up one or the other subject, but there are some things, you can only tell in the early phase of the story. Or, maybe I can reveal some of them at a later point.

Writing book 2

I didn’t get to write much in autumn 2018, but at least I started to sort the material for book 2. Sorting does inspire new ideas at times, but all in all it sometimes felt simply overwhelming. There is so much material and no way to get it all in. The file on sex issues for this book alone has more than forty pages of unused material. But there is a good chance that I can make use of some of that in the books to come.

It wasn’t before the end of February 2019 that I got to writing a bit more frequently again, and I only had a longer writing stretch in April and May 2019.

Nearly there – book 2: travelling

I am nearly through with the first draft and very happy that so many things have fallen into place. It’s still an exciting journey. Strangely, I am both excited and somewhat reluctant to get to the end of this book. It’s such a journey with each country having its very own character. I hope to start editing the final version in mid-June.

When I did my estimates on how long each book of the series is going to be, I got book 2 utterly wrong. It was to be a short bridge book (as I call books which connect two phases of the story and have a certain stand-alone character). But I underestimated that each country required some time to get at least a bit of a feel for it. It’s quite fascinating to get a sense of how overwhelmed the book’s characters must get due to the constant changes of cultures, and even the weather and the time.

I will most likely publish book 2 in two parts. The first comprises the start of the journey in New York until the end of the well deserved break in Australia (spent mostly sleeping). The second part brings some substantial change – not so much in the story – but in the kind of encounters the team makes.

Editing, reworking, polishing book 2

It’s September now. I completed the first draft in August. Before starting with the actual editing, I had to fill a few gaps. It’s always great to reach the end of a story, because that’s the moment when you know two things: first, what will be in the story and second, what needs adjustments so that the story works. You also have a better idea of where the individual characters go and can do some fine tuning on them.

Adeola

In this book, Adeola’s character was one of the big unknowns. So much so that I didn’t even know she was an unknown. She came in the story, because I like the name. And since she wasn’t in the original daydream, I hadn’t given her any thought apart from her name and her position as head of the travelling team’s business team. And then she sort of came into view, started to take form, and it was great to go back along the story for the fine tuning of her character and her story.

Presently, I am reworking a few details in the Argentina chapter, and then I’ll continue forward. There is still a bit of polishing to be done in the first chapters and a bit more in those to come, but I find it helpful to let a chapter stew from time to time before taking a look at it again.

I’ve set the publishing date to December now. I really hope it will be sooner, but there is no use in rushing. For a while, I thought I’d publish each part separately and I hoped that I could complete part 1 for the climate action week in September. Well, that plan didn’t work out. But, at the end of the day, I prefer publication when both parts are ready.

Today is the first of March, and I’m still polishing. At the end of most days, I can say it is worth the trouble, but it is frustrating not to move faster.

Writing book 3

No, you don’t need to tell me this is madness. But, truth be told, I am really looking forward to start with book 3. In fact, book 3’s last chapter is one of the earliest I wrote for this series back in 2016.

Last year, I started sorting notes for book 2 in autumn, and I decided to grand myself a day of planning and writing for book 3 early in October. It’s not the worst thing to do at this point since the end of book 2 should seamlessly merge into the start for book 3. Well, that’s at least one possible way to do it.

[1 March 2020] By now the files for book 3 are nicely sorted, and the file for additional notes is growing. I can’t wait to focus on book 3. It’s going to be so different from book 2 and most of the material is already there.


Find out more about book 2


Book 2: The things I didn’t expect to write about

last updated: 5 November 2019, Charlie Alice Raya Book 2: The things I didn’t expect to write about I’m presently writing book 2, and I’m sometimes still surprised about the issues I didn’t expect to write about. You might, or might not know that the Seven Years Easy Town story originated in a daydream. You…

Book 2: The journey disclosed

last updated: 21 September 2019, Charlie A Raya Book 2: The Journey Disclosed In book 2: travelling, Alice, Tom and a travelling team set out to visit nine of the sixteen international teams, and four of the nine main Hub Stations. In addition, they will meet with team members from New Zealand, officials in Beijing,…


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photography: Ellen Paschiller

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