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#2999: Willa Cather to Fanny Butcher, December 17 [1922] and [December 21, 1922]

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I wrote you the enclosed yesterday, and had this morning one of my gay little nephews brings me your second letter with its dizzy program. Dear Fanny Butcher1, let me wait a few days before I give you my answer. I’ve written Mrs. Bowen4 I’d lunch with her club,—that seems comparatively simple: I know your advice as to going the whole hog (I don’t mean to be witty at the expense of your city5) is absolutely sound; but I’d rather face a surgical operation, I think. Just now I am worn out with my parents6 golden Wedding festivities, many brothers7 and sisters8 coming and going, farewells and greetings. So I’ll take a few quiet days before I answer you, and then it shall be briefly “yes” or “no.” And in either case you’ll believe that I know how to appreciate your willingness to undertake this chore for me. Things are as they are, and the Knopfs9 would be delighted with your brilliant schedule10.

Of course, as you know, for me nothing really matters but writing books and living the kind of life that makes it possible to write this. Why, now, can’t I spend these days in Chicago and see something of you and two or three other people whom I really like, and then go my ways? I’m having to skip Omaha11 altogether, simply because I can’t face so much music and so many friends. Please guarantee me an hour’s quiet talk with you, anyway. You’ll hear from me anon.

Affectionately W. S. C.

I did dash through Chicago on Thanksgiving day—was met by a friend12 from Red Cloud and convoyed home. I do mean to stop over on my way back, however, and I’ll be glad to look at the picture,—Miss Babine[?],—and if anything happens in my mind I’ll write it out if I ever have an hour to myself again. This winter has been a Hell of correspondence and telegrams. Whoever professes to like one’s writing does all in his power to prevent one from ever having one untroubled day in which to write again. What a mob of idiots the “public” is! Their indifference never cost me one bad half-hour, but their attentions have cost me a good many. I’ll get the better of them, however. They shan’t prevent me from following my own trade in my own way. In spite of them and their checks and one million requests, I’ve done a new story13 this winter—a pretty one, 40,000 words.

My date for a day in Chicago is uncertain—sometime between the 6th & 12th of January I should think. If Mildred Bowen can accept me on those vague terms, I will lunch with the Cordon Club, since she’s promised to have both you and Edith Abbott14 there. Will you please call her up and tell her this? I’ll write her to that effect. Please excuse this scrawl—I’m writing in bed at night, after a hectic day. Please remember me warmly to Miss Roullier15. I’m having a wonderful time at home. I sail for France16 and the Hambourgs17 at the end of March and will be gone a year.

A Merry Christmas to you, dear Fanny Butcher.

Yours W. S. C.

Title of new story “A Lost Lady”. Both the Knopfs like it better than anything I’ve ever done.