Hall to McNair: December 2, 1980


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2 December 1980

Wes McNair
Box 43
North Sutton, NH 03260

Dear Wes,

Good to have your good letter. I am delighted that
you are applying for a full year off. You are acting according
to the Hall principal, which is to save nothing, conserve
nothing, and devote every possible moment and piece of energy
to writing the best that you can. When I had taught for two
years in Michigan I applied for a Guggenheim because I was
so crazy for time to write in. I did not get it. I had
saved $2000 from poetry readings, book reviews, etc. – and
we took the year off, Andrew five and Philippa just born –
and I have never regretted it for a moment. So many people
waste their lives doing sensible things.

May you get it. What is at issue? I am assuming that
you might either have a half-year at full pay or a full year
at half-pay, and that therefore you asking for a full year
at half-pay. (That was the way it was at Michigan and the
way it is at many places. Naturally enough I always took
the whole year at half-pay!)

Sorry about the bad news. Form letters reveal that
Georgia, like most places, is a lottery. If I were editing
for a big university press now, I bet you I would reject good
things with form letters also! Not that I approve of it! But
when you get so many manuscripts in the mail, it is incredibly
hard to keep any judgment at all. Of course you are right to
keep it out, and under these circumstances to keep it out
multiply. Of course I continue to hope that I might sometime
be able to be helpful.

You have really been getting a lot of work done with your
time off, wonderful and good for you… Also good to hold back!

Best as ever,