Skip to main content

#0116: Willa Cather to Harrison G. Dwight, October 9, 1906

More about this letter…
Plain view:

Guide to Reading Letter Transcriptions

Some of these features are only visible when "plain text" is off.

Textual Feature Appearance
passage deleted with a strikethrough mark deleted passage
passage deleted by overwritten added letters overwritten passage
passage added above the line passage with added text above
passage added on the line passage with added text inline
passage added in the margin passage with text added in margin
handwritten addition to a typewritten letter typed passage with added handwritten text
missing or unreadable text missing text noted with "[illegible]"
uncertain transcriptions word[?]
notes written by someone other than Willa Cather Note in another's hand
printed letterhead text printed text
text printed on postcards, envelopes, etc. printed text
text of date and place stamps stamped text
passage written by Cather on separate enclosure. written text
44-60 East Twenty-Third Street,
Dear Mr. Dwight1:

We took "The Valley of the Mills"4 because we liked it in spite of the fact that we felt it lacked something; at least Mr. McClure5 and I both liked it very, very much. I always hold out in argument that a feeling can be a story just as much as an incident, or rather that a story can be made out of a feeling as naturally as it can be made out of an incident.

Still, I do think there are certain ways of arrangement which are as necessary in the management of a story made out of a feeling as they are in the management of a story made out of an incident, but this is futile talk, because you know the weak side of your own work better than anyone else knows it. It really seems such a trivial weakness that I cannot believe you will find it very hard to get over.

If you are going back to hallowed and wholesome lands, I feel that you ought to be able to find stories there for us. As long as I am here your work would shall always have an ardent advocate. There is nobody here who would not like the "outlandishness" and pictur— #2esqueness, provided that you can make the story run a little hotter and swifter through your atmosphere.

I want to see you before you go away because I have long been thinking about the possibility of a series of descriptive articles which would have to do with Mediterranean6 countries and I want to talk this matter over with you. I am going to Pittsburg7 on Friday night of this week to be gone until the first of November. After I return I shall be at #60 South Washington Square8. Please telephone or drop me a note before you come so that I may be sure to be at home.

In case you are going away before I come back, I hope you will try to drop into the office some day this week. I shall be there every day until Saturday.

Very sincerely yours, Willa Sibert Cather. Mr. H. G. Dwight, c/o The Authors' Club, N.Y.2

You do so nearly press the button in the story we took. Of course we all think it's world's better than plenty of stories that "get there" admirably—but if this story arrived with both its feet it would be a really valuable thing—a stem winder!