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#0709: Willa Cather to Duncan M. Vinsonhaler, [December 10, 1923]

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⬩W⬩S⬩C⬩ My Dear Judge Vinsonhaler1;

One of you letters sent to France3 must have missed me, for until your last letter reached me here2 I had no idea that you expected me to be present when the portrait4 is presented to the Public Library. I may have said in one of my letters to you that I hoped to be at home5 at Christmas time. I did hope, and I very much wish to be there, but I am afraid it will be impossible. The fact is simply that I have begun on a new story6, and if I leave it at this stage, I will lose it. I have to stay with a piece of work in the beginning; if I go away from it and let other things rush in, I never recapture my first int interest in it. Of course if Mother7 and father8 insisted, I'd go, but I'd lose my story. This is an explanation of my not coming; it is for you, and for those most interested, but it's not for publication.I don't like details about my methods of work in print. If you have anything in print about my not coming, you can simply say that my business engagements in New York won't permit my leaving at all just now.

Because I have come to regard you as a friend, you will let me say that it will be much better for me not to be there, but to visit you at sometime later, when there is no 'ceremony' and everything will be easier. I've cut out every sort of public appearance this winter, even the William Vaughn Moody lectures in Chicago9, which I would very much have really liked to give. You see, people want me to do anything in the world but write.! I could ⬩W⬩S⬩C⬩lecture and visit for the rest of my life. My countrymen seem quite willing to support me for the present and future, if only they can keep my mind broken up and keep me from writing. How they must really detest the books they make such a fuss about! Even the pleasantest, (most of all the pleasant!) meetings with crowds of people- - - well, they tire me terribly, and take exact from me exactly the quality that should go into my work. I never let allowed the indifference of my fellow-countrymen to bother me at all; but if I'm not very careful, their well-meant attentions will simply wreck me,- just break the machine that makes it. That's not a figure, but a fact.

(I am so sorry your last letter came too late. The portrait was shipped on Saturday the 8th, to your address.) No, it was not I have just got back from a rapid taxi trip uptown, to look into the matter. I The picture will go tomorrow, addressed to the Library, as you request, charges pre-paid. I will send you a statement of the shipping and express charges later. I hope your tooth is quite well by this time, dear Mr. Vinsonhaler, but I'm afraid I've inherited it. With ten thousand absolutely necessary things to do, I've been going to the dentist daily. Poor Caesare10, the cartoonist, is trying to do a black-and-white of me with one cheek turned to the wall and a pained look about the eyes.

I hope you'll like the photograph I sent you.

Faithfully yours Willa Cather
Mr. Duncan M. Vinsonhaler1 First National Bank Building Omaha11 Nebraska NEW YORK.N.Y.STA.C2 DEC 10 1923 730 PM