Female Authors Who Inspire Us: Lydia Davis

WriteGirl Interns Brandy age 14 and Monica age 16

Summer months prove to be full of quick learning and busy work, especially for us interns at the WriteGirl offices; however, in our free time a book perfect for a brisk reading or maybe squeezing in a couple short stories on the bus or on break, is any publication by Lydia Davis. Being a wonderful prose and short story writer, Davis inspires us to always find time for writing, which can be difficult but equally important for beginners and girls caught in hectic schedules of school and life. We wanted to share Lydia's great style to make girls like us aware of the unlimited advantages of using short story and prose writing to push one's own creative hand.

Lydia Davis is considered one of the most original minds in American fiction today. Aside from being a novelist and an essayist, her short stories offer the element of surprise and grasp your attention in one whole swoop. Eleanor Wachtel states in her blog post “An Interview With Lydia Davis” that Davis’ work reveals “how all that one word says, and leaves unsaid, can hold a reader’s interest” (Brick Magazine). In her non-conventional works she reveals the thoughts and meanings behind monotonous actions and whether or not they truly are worth taking.

Davis accomplishes the mystique of short story and prose writing style by furnishing elaborate scenes within half a page or at times a mere sentence or two, as in “The Fly”: “At the back of the bus, inside the bathroom, this very small illegal passenger, on its way to Boston.” Lydia paints a candid story of an insignificant insect.

When writing, she chooses any place once she gets an idea and starts to write it down in a notebook or sometimes on a spare scrap of paper. “I would say my writing habits have remained pretty constant though the forms of my writing have changed over time. If anything, I was a little more systematic when I was starting out: I would try to stay at the desk for a certain number of hours each day,” says Lydia in an interview with Jennifer Howard and Rachel Mangini in their post, “Interview with Lydia Davis” (Hot Metal Bridge).

A brief yet concise plot, characters, or concept are important to keep in mind, and as a challenge, develop an anecdote to intrigue the reader. This technique can make the daunting ambition of starting a novel dissipate. Try taking dull occurrences and weave uncontrived stories while using the fewest amount of words. For example, “I deferred your phone call with the best of intentions; so I could anticipate the next.” The selection of word choice will make your piece more powerful along with the focus on only a few deliberate lines. Writing short stories is a great way to externalize your thoughts or ideas and create a new chapter of your own. Davis’ writing style is recommended for young writers who are stuck with writer’s block because it portrays such a picturesque scene that implores the reader and makes them want an “Encore!”