Skip to main content

#1952: Willa Cather to Charles Douglas Cather, July 8 [1916]

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
c/o Columbian Hotel4 Taos N. M.2 for one week. THE BROWN PALACE HOTEL5
My Dear Douglass1:

Edith6 and I are here again after five gritting hot days in Denver7. The nights are cool here and the days are hot for only a few hours. We can get excellent horses. Edith is a showy rider, and I can at least manage to get about on a horse and don't much mind a rough trail.

You said you were coming north in July. I wonder how far north? As far a as Albuquerque8, for instance? Unless there is some good chance of meeting you we shall probably not stir far from here. Perhaps we may take another driving trip among the Rio Grande pueblos about Española9, if Edith is well enough. Edith must be in New York10 on the 25th of July, and I am afraid her vacation so far has been more interesting than restful. After she leaves me I may go11 to Lander12. Eventually I will reach Red Cloud13, and then I hope I can persuade Mother14 to go to Denver for a couple weeks, as Elsie15 writes that she is not well. I want to stay at home for a month or two, if it is agreeable to everybody, but I won't stay after I begin to get on anybody's nerves. I shall always be sorry that I went home last summer, because I seemed to get in wrong at every turn. It seems not to be anything that I do, in particular, but my personality in general, what I am and think and like and dislike, that you all find exasperating after a little while. I'm not so THE BROWN PALACE HOTEL
well pleased with myself, my dear boy, as you sometimes seem to think. Only in my business one has to advertise a little or drop out—I surely do not advertise or talk about myself as much as most people who write for a living—or one has to drop out. I can't see how it would help any of my family any if I lay down on my oars and quit that rough-and-tumble game. It would be easy enough to do that. I've had a very hard winter and have got no work done except two short stories16one very poor17. Judge McClung's18 death and Isabelle's19 marriage have made a tremendous difference in my life. The loss of a home like that leaves one pretty lonely and miserable. I can fight it out, but I've not as much heart for anything as I had a year ago. I suppose the test of one's decency is how much of a fight one can put up after one has stopped caring, and after one has found out that one can never please the people they wanted to please. I suppose it's playing the game after that, that counts.

However, the truth is usually gloomy, and one doesn't have to talk about it all the time, thank goodness. I don't see why you and I can't meet and do things together, even if you find my sort trying. I know I'm "trying". Most women who have been able to make over a hundred dollars a month in office work, have been spoiled by it in one way or another. It is bad for all of them and it was bad for me. But even so, I don't see why we can't make it go better, and have lots of good times together. I enjoyed every minute [illegible] that I was with you in Denver last year. I can have a better time with THE BROWN PALACE HOTEL
you than with almost anybody, when you are not grouchy. And why when you are grouchy, after this, I'll simply flit. I won't sit around and weep. I can't be hurt again as badly as I was last summer. After this I'll be more philosophical; I won't expect too much, from and I mean to enjoy any goodwill or friendship I get from any of my family. I enjoy every single member of my family when they are half-way friendly toward me. I enjoy them a great deal more now than I did in my younger days when I kept trying to make everybody over. My first impulse, of course, is to think that my own way of seeing things is the right way. But my second thought is always to admit that this is wrong and that I have been often mistaken. I even think I've grown a good deal milder in the last year—I've had trouble enough and losses enough. Three friends died20 during the winter whom it seemed to me I could not get on without. And perhaps the disapproval I got at home last summer has been good for me. I am quite a meek proposition now, I can tell you. I think I've had my belting, and it has taken the fizz out of me all right—and I'll tell you this, it's positively shipwreck for work. I doubt whether I'll ever write anything worth while again. To write well you have to be all wrapped up in your game and think it awfully worth while. I only hope I'm not so spiritless I won't got be able to make a living. I had two stories turned down this winter because they had no "pep" in them. The editors said they hadn't and I knew they hadn't.

Be sure to meet me somewhere if you can. I think you'll find me easier to get on with. Time is good for violent people.

Yours with much love Willie
Mr. Douglass Cather1 Tuscon3 Arizona TAOS N. MEX.2 JUL 10 1916 3AM THE BROWN PALACE HOTEL