Airstream Dispatches Reads Claire Davis

Claire Davis

Photo Credit John Campbell

Publishers Weekly describes Labors of the Heart, by acclaimed novelist Claire Davis, as “10 heartfelt studies.” The collection gathers stories previously published to present a body of work that, to my reading, gives writers two significant gifts. First, it’s possible to “get lost” in the precise, lyrical prose and forget (for a few moments, pages, or even a full story) that I’m trying to revise and draft pages of my own. In other words, I actually get to STOP reading like a writer for a few moments, and just enjoy being deeply moved, entertained, and transported. There are very few writers whose works can still do this for me, and I’m so grateful to them.

Second, when I DO turn “reading like a writer” back on, thumbing through Claire’s stories, I discover true mastery of the structural components of prose. I can see, or try to see, just where backstory feeds back into the present action, and why it is selected. I can isolate a flashback, including the transitions into and out of it. But there are just as many passages where movement between one structural component or another seems hard to pin down–and to me, that’s a sign of mastery. The writing is so organic, so rich, so perfectly formed, that at times it avoids dissection.

I was lucky enough to study with Claire during graduate school. Her passion and precision as a teacher, and as a writer, stay with me to this day. More than any other faculty member from my years at Pacific, Claire is the writer who sits on my shoulders and whispers in my ear: “Howdy! Is that really what your character is after? Isn’t there more to it?” or “More here,” or “What’s on the other side of this?”

I keep hearing from individual writers who struggle with and want the same things: to be seen and understood, even for the small victories (a well-crafted sentence, a draft finished, a paragraph revised). They want to write privately and think deeply, on their own, about their work. But then they want to check in, without having to expend too much.  These are the writers that inspired me to create Airstream Dispatches, a worldwide writing group and book club that brings together dedicated creatives who want knowledge, fun, productivity, and connection—no strings attached. Is this you? Come find out.


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