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#2542: Willa Cather to Alfred A. Knopf, [November 21, 1922]

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NUMBER FIVE BANK STREET3 Dear Mr. Knopf1:

It surely does help one along to publish with people who can like a thing for what it has got, and not just feel nervous and anxious because it hasn't the Rex Beach4 quality—as nice Ferris Greenslet5 always felt. If it was "Western" then it ought to be Rex Beachy and rough-house. He never saw what was there, only what wasn't, and whistled to keep up his courage. What I want to do is to find a few qualities, a few perfumes, that haven't been exactly named and defined yet. And if I have a publisher who is interested in new tastes and smells, I can go a good way toward finding them. This story6 is an example of what I mean; it's a little; lawless un-machine made thing—not very good construction, but the woman7 loves lives—that's all I want. I don't care about the frame work—I'll make any kind of net that will get, and hold, her alive.

Of course, if you can get serial publication8, I would like it because of the money. The more expert personal service I can afford to pay for, the more I can write. If I can find and afford a really competent secretary, that will help a great deal. On the other hand, I don't want want to delay publication too long. I am beginning to be awfully weary of the hoot-owl legend that it takes me three years to write a book. I've no drive to do stunts, but I don't wish to get into a three-year habit. It depends on the kind of book. I think you had better use your best judgment about serialization. Why not offer it to someone who will pay well and see if he'll make an offer9? NUMBER FIVE BANK STREET If we had an offer, we could decide. I confess to a shudder where the magazines are concerned. But serialization is supposed to be good advertising, isn't it, as well as good pay? You will be leaving tomorrow, but perhaps I can manage to talk this over with Mrs. Knopf10 before I go11.

Faithfully yours Willa Cather

The news about "One of Ours"12 is simply splendid!