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#0046: Willa Cather to Louise Pound, October 13, 1897

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My dear Louise1.

I don't quite deserve that ironical thrust about not sending my address, and if you'll pardon an autobiographical paragraph I'll tell you why.

You see I came to the Leader3 expecting to do their dramatic work only. A few days after my arrival the day telegraph editor left for New York4 and I went on to help do his work until a man could be got to take his place. I liked the work and a wild idea took hold of me to demand the place for myself. I did so. Of course there were objections to my age and sex and inexperience, but I hung on, and they said I might try it for a few weeks just as an experiment. The work is not quite so thrilling as dramatic work, but it is a much more responsible and remunerative position. There is no hack work about it, simply editing and expanding or "padding" foreign telegrams. For instance, when a cable comes announcing the birth of a prospective Duke of Marlborough5, to give add a short history of the house etc. Then one has to judge what of all the avalanche of matter that descends upon the desk is really important. The chief requisites are discretion, some general knowledge of foreign affairs and history, and the trick of writing headlines. The latter was, and is still, hard for me. It all has to be done so quickly and a dozen telegraph boys at one's elbow rattle one somewhat. Then it's so absolutely irrevocable, when a thing once shoots up that pneumatic tube it's beyond the power of man to get it back or change it. Well, you know I am naturally slouchy and uncertain, so you will appreciate
that I have been on the race track since my return. Saturday night the directors met and gave me the editorship and the boys gave me a supper and the other papers had a few headlines6 about me and there's an end of it. The work is stiff while you are at it, but no end exciting and the hours are only from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. and after that I am absolutely free. It is so funny to have to hold a form half an hour because the King of Belgium7 is on a spree or to be almost wild because somebody in Paris8 shot herself just five minutes too late to get in on the dramatic page where she ought to be and maybe have to put her right next to a W. C. T. U.9 Convention in Ohio10. And it's so perplexing to think up different suicides headlines for twelve suicides all at once. People show such a poverty of imagination in the way they kill themselves. But the political news is the stiff tangle. When you get one cable from Berlin11 saying this about the Emperor William12's speech, and another from Vienna13 saying exactly the opposite, what are you going to do? Those Continental folks have such different points of view. But this is decidedly too autobiographical.

As to the Portrait of a Lady14, I will let her tell me the message I want to hear, may I do that?

I see you have resorted to designating me by my sex. Do you remember how Tucker15 used to wail "Alack16, that I have worn so many winters out, And know not now what name to call myself"!

I had just settled down to tell you a lot of things, but the maid has just brought up Mr. Farrar17's card and I recall now that I promised to go to a reception with him this evening, so I'll just have to thank you for the picture and say good night. Let me hear from you.

Faithfully yours Willa Cather 309 S. Highland Ave. East End Pittsburgh.
Miss Louise Pound1 1632 L. St Lincoln18 Nebraska. PITTSBURGH PA19 OCT 14 97 930 AM LINCOLN, NEB.18 OCT 16 11 AM