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I (Write) Like Ike!

Posted by Dirck on 18 October, 2012

As so often before, I lie with my title.  A couple of days ago, I was examining a blog in passing, and I fell to a come-on in the sidebar which said:

I write like
St. Ralf Mendax

I Write Like by Mémoires, journal software. Analyze your writing!

…and I went off down the link to discover who a piece of possibly well-found software written by any number of anonymous persons of unknown literacy thinks my writing style resembles.  What could possibly go wrong?

The idea behind this thing is that you copy a section of your writing, paste it into the site’s box, and it will taste and judge it.  Being the devotee of science that I am, I thought that a single sample wouldn’t give an accurate result, and so I went to work lifting ten samples from diverse entries here over the last couple of months.  Not surprisingly, the results were not entirely consistent.  The first sample I gave it was like, it thought, Mary Shelley.  Since I’m not too concerned about gender identification as far as writing goes, that’s cool.

Mary Shelley, though, I write only somewhat like.  I apparently write as much like her as like Cory Doctorow, an assessment I’ll also happily accept, but out of the ten samples I got H.P. Lovecraft three times, producing a small warm glow of delight, and four times I got David Foster Wallace.

Who?

Here I reveal my insular ignorance.  He is, I discover through the power of Teh Intarnetz, a highly regarded and well received novelist, of the same age as me.  However, apart from “published” and “critically acclaimed” points of difference, there is also the point that despite the fact he’s the same age as me, he was born four years earlier; we might add “successfully suicidal” to the mix.  I’m neither of those last bits, and I’m not convinced that the previous ones are worth the trade-off.  I’ll happily put off publication and adulation of the literati in favour of not being dead.  Lovecraft didn’t last very long either, but at least that wasn’t his choice.

Overlooking for a moment the unhappy end of the man’s life, the comparison is extremely flattering.  I will cling to this as a wrestle with the last paragraph of a short story that simply will not bear the weight of what goes before it, regardless of how I come at it, and I will hold it up as a goad when the free-time choice of “Work on the novel”/”More Plants vs. Zombies” hangs before me.  It’s a huge ego-booster, if one dares believe the results.

I should address, before I wrap up, the hanging question of “what could possibly go wrong?”  I’ve only reported nine of my samples, you will notice.  What could possibly go wrong is the unreported sample.

Dan Brown.  “Suicidal” sticks its unlovely head around the corner, smelling despondency… if one dare believe the results.

Today’s pen: Sheaffer TRZ
Today’s ink: Diamine Syrah

12 Responses to “I (Write) Like Ike!”

  1. Maja said

    Hmmm, I also got Cory Doctorow. I tried it again and it said I write like Chuck Palahniuk.
    Last person in the world I would have guessed…..

    Thanks for the link!

  2. Andrew said

    David Foster Wallace is/was an excellent essayist, someone who you might appreciate. I’d highly recommend “Consider the Lobster” and “A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again” – collections of his wide ranging essays. With the exception of Dan Brown you seem to have done OK in the “writes like lottery.”

    These things sometimes follow one around like a certain odour. My particular headstone are the famous folks born the same day I was born (day, not year). I’m stuck with Babe Ruth and Ronald Reagan. As certain folks would say years ago: gag me with a chain saw.

    • Oh, dear. Well, you can at least take comfort that one of them was in a couple of interesting films, and the other one has become the godhead of a strange cult. And neither one is a known serial killer.

      Having found that bare biography of him, I do intend to read some Wallace; curiosity nags.

  3. Tim said

    I seem to have scored H.P. Lovecraft. I’m not sure what that necessarily means. I’ll have to do some research on that.

  4. I keep getting Cory Doctorow and David Foster Wallace, over and over and over again. Once I got Leo Tolstoy. Personally, my preference would be to write like Ernest Hemingway, but he’s never come up.

    • Perhaps those two chaps are “the voice of their generation” which we hear so much about. I’ve not read enough Hemingway to be quite sure of my ground, but I’m pretty sure I like your mode of expression better than his.

  5. […] of the items of past glory I examined was a slightly meta examination of my own writing style, which I’ll synopsize here so you don’t actually have to click that link.  I had found […]

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