My new book came out last week. I started writing it before I retired, which means I’ve been working on it for over six years. Still it remained fun right up until the end. With everything else I’ve ever written, I eventually reached a point when I wanted it to be done. With this project, I jumped out of bed every morning, happy to make a pot of coffee and read, write, and edit until noon. For many years I wrote almost exclusively at coffee shops, but moved home at the first hint of the pandemic. I discovered I preferred my front porch to any public space and have been writing from home ever since. Manyu and Jack (my wife and my dog) sometimes interrupt me, but no more so than friends who used to drop by at the coffee shops.

Essays to My Daughter on Our Relationship With the Natural World was meant to be the subtitle for the book. From the very start, I wanted to title the book West of Sand County – which I thought was a perfect name for a series of nature essays written geographically west of where Aldo Leopold had written much of the classic A Sand County Almanac. The editorial board at Purdue University Press loved the book, but not the title. They felt the potential audience for the book was broad, and West of Sand County appealed only to tree huggers, maybe only to tree huggers from Wisconsin. Obviously the board did not appreciate the widespread popularity of A Sand County Almanac, but they also made a good point. If one purpose of my book was to introduce readers to Aldo Leopold and other noted nature writers, the title should not be directed at readers who already know who those authors are. My proposed title was scrapped, and the subtitle rose to the top. The board believed that the phrase “Essays to My Daughter” was the hook the book needed. 

This past weekend I did a reading at our local independent bookstore. I’d never done anything like that before, and I liked it. I hope I can do a few more. Clare drove up from Madison for the event, so I actually got to read Essays to My Daughter to my daughter. 

Steven Simpson