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Love Letters
Letter sent on Dec 23, 2015

Brooks Salzwedel

Happy Holidays + Kickstarter Announcement

Dear Reader,

As 2015 draws to a close, I’m reflecting on many blessings. I’m grateful for the opportunity to share my writing with you through Love Letters. Writing has brought a profound joy to my life, and I hope reading these stories does the same for you.

I’m thrilled to announce a new project that’s been in the works since July. In October, I left my job as a creative director to work full time on a new adaptation of Walden by Henry David Thoreau. The book will be launched on Kickstarter in February, 2016.

“How many a man has dated a new era in his life from the reading of a book!” — Thoreau, Walden

In 1845, Thoreau built a small cabin on the shore of Walden Pond, near his hometown of Concord, Massachusetts. He wanted to create a quiet place where he could write. But he also wished to withdraw from the noise of society and gain a clear view of it, live simply in the thick of nature, and, in his own words, “to suck all the marrow out of life.” He did not want to reach the end of his life only to find out that he “had not lived.”

Though it’s a classic piece of American literature, Walden is full of run-on sentences, page-long paragraphs, outdated syntax and archaic words. The ways we read and write have changed significantly since the mid 19th century. But this book is well worth the effort, and it only improves with re-reading. And crucially, the story is more relevant than ever.

What if there was a way to make Walden more readable? What if we could revise the text in such a way that it still feels and sounds like Thoreau, keeping all the ideas intact but updating the language to suit how people read in the 21st century? What if it was beautifully designed and illustrated, and produced as a high-quality edition that could last for hundreds of years? I believe all of these things are possible.

My new adaptation of Walden will carefully remove the original’s literary obstacles. I’ve partnered with Billy Merrell, an award-winning poet and book editor. Billy will review all of my edits and lend his expert advice. He has already offered great input on the first several chapters. And the incredible artist Brooks Salzwedel is already hard at work on several illustrations that will grace the book. Together, I’m confident that we can breath new life into this story, reestablish its relevance, and broaden its reach.

To find out more about this project, check out these two posts:

Return To Walden
The Tao of Thoreau, Part One

Pay Attention!
The Tao of Thoreau, Part Two

You can also jump straight to my adaptation of Walden’s first chapter:

Walden Part 1: Economy, Chapter 1

Over the next couple months, I’ll share several more chapters from the book, as well as an inside look at the process of editing and designing Walden. If you’d like to see this project brought to life, then I invite you to share these posts with friends and family.

As always, thank you for reading. Happy Holidays, and my very best wishes for a wonderful New Year!

With love,
Matt Steel

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