Who Do You Write Like?

There’s a nifty little tool that will tell you what famous author you write like, when you paste a sample of your work in the Analyzer.  It’s I Write Like.  I’ve used it before with some of my blog posts.  The results were…mixed.  I got Stephanie Meyer and Margaret Mitchell.  One is a Pulitzer Prize winner, the other is not.  I leave it to you to determine which is which.  But hey, either way, I’ve got what it takes to sell a lot of books, right?  Yeah.

Pulitzer Prize for literature

This could be mine one day...

I forgot about the site.  Then, when looking around on the wordpress forums, I saw the thread,  “See Who You Write Like”, started by TheInsanityAquarium.    I started thinking.  Unusual, I know.

I’m writing a novel.  I have over 20,000 words I could plug into this baby.  This isn’t some silly blog post.  This is me, as a novelist.  Who do I write like?

So, I went to the WIP, and copied and pasted each session into the I Write Like analyzer.  (This and Words With Friends is what I do when I should be adding to my word count.  Procrastinate much? )  Anyway, here’s what I got.

Lewis Carrol (once)
Kurt Vonnegut (three times)
Ian Fleming ( SIX times)

Me, the dork that I am, Googled each author and their writing style.  (I could have written 1,000s of words in the time it took.  *sigh*)   I wanted to know what “you write like…” meant.

Lewis Carrol

Lewis Carroll, the well-known author of Alice'...

  • “Frequently use italics for emphasis” and employ “odd usage of parentheses and capital letters.”  Viewed as “unprofessional.”  Source:  Down the Rabbit Hole and Back
  • Use nonsense words.

Kurt Vonnegut

Kurt Vonnegut speaking at Case Western Reserve...

(I went to the man himself for style advice)

  • Find a subject you care about
  • Do not ramble, though.
  • Keep it simple.
  • Have the guts to cut.
  • Sound like yourself.
  • Say what you mean to say.
  • Pity the readers.
Ian Fleming oil painting

Ian Fleming (Keep in mind, I got this SIX times)

There is actually a web page called, “How to Write Like Ian Fleming.” 

  • Describe food in detail, but make sure it’s good food.
  • Have your characters drink plenty of alcohol.
  • Include sensuous details about clothes.
  • Let your characters take time to relax and enjoy themselves now and then.

“The Fleming style, which he consciously adopted and employed in all his work, includes details calculated to excite the senses and give readers a taste of luxury and hedonism.”

————————————

There you have it.  Who (and What) I write like.  Three very different writers from three distinct time periods.  So what does this mean for me?

Nothing.

Well, except for the fact that I write like a dude.

———————————-

Just for fun, who do you write like?  I’d love to see who you get and what you think of it.  Here’s the link again:  I Write Like…

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A Return To Reading: Elegance and Ecology

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http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5/Daily Foglifter:  Hedgehogs swim, climb walls and trees, and can run with a speed of 4.5 mph.

I’m ashamed to say that I haven’t been reading very much lately.  I have three library books out and I’ve already had to renew them once.  That gives me four more weeks to finish them before they’re due.  I have also borrowed two books that I need to read and return.  I hope to get all five done in a month’s time.  It’s my Return to Reading challenge. 

Reading is a habit, but, unfortunately, it’s one that is easily broken.  I forget for a few days and suddenly it’s two weeks later and I haven’t read a thing.  It’s bad for my brain and it’s especially bad for my writing.  No one writes well who doesn’t read well.  Fortunately for me I have chosen two spectacular books to read first.  I don’t usually start one book before I’m done with another, but it was by happy accident that I discovered a book while at my in-laws’ house.  My extremely well-read father-in-law had checked a book out and I was intrigued by the title and picked it up.  I was hooked by the end of 10 pages.  So, it’s two books this week.

The book I picked up is Ecology of a Cracker Childhood by Jannise Ray.  Ray is a Georgia gal from the small town of Baxley, located about 78 miles from where I live.  The book is about her quest to save the longleaf pine ecosystem.  The subject hits close to home.  In the last month I’ve seen acres of pine trees cut down around my home for, I assume, another neighborhood of houses no one can afford to buy.  I normally wouldn’t read an “environmental” book because, quite frankly, they’re preachy, elitist, and dry as dust.  Ray is different.  It’s a book about conservation, yes, but it’s so much more.  It’s about her hard childhood and her effort to escape the embarrassment of living in a junkyard in the poor South.  It’s about her family and her connection to the land.  The story of her life and the history of the longleaf pine are woven together in a beautiful tale of loss and hope.

The creation ends in south Georgia, at the very edge of the sweet earth.  Only the sky, widest of the wide, goes on, flatness against flatness.  The sky appears so close that, with a long-enough extension ladder, you think you could touch it, and sometimes you do, when clouds descend in the night to set a fine pelt of dew on the grasses, leaving behind white trails of fog and mist. 

At night the stars are thick and bright as a pint jar of fireflies, the moon at full a pearly orb, sailing through them like an egret.  By day the sun, close in a paper sky, laps moisture from the land, then gives it back, always an exchange.  Even in drought, when each dawn a parched sun cracks against the horizon’s griddle, the air is thick with water.  (pg.3, Introduction to Ecology of a Cracker Childhood)

The other book I’m reading is The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery.  I’m only halfway through this one but I absolutely love it so far.  I have a feeling it might end tragically but it will be a pleasurable pain.  With writing this sublime, how could it not be?  It was translated from French, and I can only imagine how much better it would be read in its original language.  The story is told by super-intelligent 12-year-old Paloma and Renee, a concierge in an elegant Parisian hotel.  I’m not going to go into the plot.  I’d rather you discover that for yourself. 

 

So, we mustn’t forget any of this, absolutely not. We have to live with the certainty that we’ll get old and that it won’t look nice or be good or feel happy.  And tell ourselves that it’s now that matters: to build something, now, at any price, using all our strength.  Always remember that there’s a retirement home waiting somewhere and so we have to surpass ourselves every day, make every day undying.  Climb our own personal Everest and do it in such a way that every step is a little bit of eternity.

That’s what the future is for: to build the present, with real plans, made by living people.  (pg. 129, final paragraph of Profound Thought No. 8 )

 

Note:  Both these books are available at thriftbooks.com

My Tech-Free Day

Daily Foglifter:  People spend over 700 billion minutes per month on Facebook.

I did it.  24 hours with absolutely no computer use.  It was harder than I thought it would be.  Normally, I do my “computer stuff” when I have my morning coffee.  That’s usually when I check e-mail and Facebook or play a couple of games on pogo.com.  Since I usually write my blog late the night before I’m ready to post it, this is also a good time to read it over and make sure I didn’t make any major spelling or grammatical errors to make sure that what I wrote at 1:00 in the morning made any sense and wouldn’t unnecessarily offend or embarrass anyone.  Yesterday, it was me , my coffee, and maddening morning news shows.  My Lord, those people are entirely too perky in the morning!

I got a lot done, but not as much as I wanted.  There was no piano playing yesterday.  There was a considerable amount of cleaning, but the house isn’t sparkling this morning.  I blame that on tech support (again).  I spent a little over an hour on the phone, in three-minute increments in which time I was placed on hold so the very nice and pleasant man I talked to “updated his system.”  It ended with agreeing to a new cell phone number.  I figured the hassle of telling everyone our new number paled in comparison to the nightmare that is customer support.  Once I agreed to this, it took approximately a minute and a half to get the dumb cell phone working.  I don’t know why, but there it is.

The main reason my house isn’t clean is because I have a 16-month-old daughter whose new obsessions include emptying the trash can on the floor, the DVDs and books off the shelves, and seeking out any cosmetics, cups, or boxes that happen to be within her ever-expanding grasp and emptying the contents on the floor.  I don’t know what makes toddlers want to “empty” things.  She takes all the utensils out of the kitchen drawers, her clothes out of her dresser, and the baby wipes out of the container.  I couldn’t get one mess cleaned up before she was making another one.  When she threw the freshly folded laundry on the floor, I decided it was nap time.  I sat down to rock her and she fell asleep pretty quickly.  Unfortunately, so did I.

I did get some reading done yesterday.  I have not read in over a week and that is very unusual for me.  I think it had more to do with what I was trying to read than any computer activity.  I’m still working on The Modern Library’s Top 100 Novels of the Twentieth Century and Radcliffe’s List as well.  I’ve read some really good books from both these lists, but there have been some tedious, boring (Invisible Man), and just plain nonsensical books as well.  (The Unbearable Lightness of Being is one of the most self-indulgent and awful books I have ever read.)  The current book was “White Fang.”  It’s not terrible, but it’s just not for me.  I put it aside and started reading some Percy Jackson, at my son’s request, and something I wanted to read.  The lists aren’t going anywhere and I don’t have a set date of completion anyway.

My time away from the computer had its drawbacks.  When I checked my e-mail today I had 48 messages in my inbox and 78 in my spam folder.  I have to at least look at the spam contents because sometimes mass mailings from the kids’ schools gets sent there.  I wanted to make a phone call yesterday and instead of just looking up the number on-line I had to look through two phone books.  The phone books here are awful.  Every town has its own phone book and nothing is listed where it logically should be.

I will not be taking any more computer holidays.  It’s too late to go back to the pre-Internet days for me.  I have too many balls up in the air, and the internet is the easiest way to manage the chaos.  It’ easier to order things from Amazon than to go to a million different stores.  It’s easier to set up appointments and correspond with the kids’ teachers via e-mail.  It’s easier to stay in contact with friends and family back home through Facebook.  Like anything else, I have to be aware of the amount of time I spend using it and adjust accordingly.  After yesterday, I have decided to set a time aside for Facebook, instead of compulsively checking it every hour or so.  Twice a day is sufficient.  The e-mail I still check since that’s how Chris and I communicate while he’s at work.  How else will I know to get him soap at the grocery store or what he thinks we should have for dinner since I’ve run out of ideas after 12 years of marriage, which is approximately 4,380 menu decisions?

I challenge you to take one full day away from your computer.  I’d be interested in hearing what you missed most or were able to accomplish with the extra time.

 
Day, n. A period of twenty-four hours, mostly misspent.
Ambrose Bierce,

“The Perfect Day” Part Three: Frivolous, Mindless, Guilty-Pleasure Movies, AKA “The Twilight Saga” (Don’t Judge Me)

 I admit it.  I love the Twilight books and the movies.  No, I’m not a “Twihard’ or “Twimom.”  I do not own an Edward comforter or life-size cutout.  I don’t have SweetTart boxes, band-aids, or any other asinine product featuring the face of either Jacob or Edward.  I don’t host or attend Twilight viewing parties.  You will never see my old behind screaming and crying in a crowd after getting a glimpse of  a 19-year-old kid at a Twilight cast appearance.  I am perfectly sane.  Everyone has a guilty pleasure and Twilight just happens to be mine. 

After the spa, I went home to watch Twilight movies.  That is why it was essential that my husband be out of the house.  He HATES the Twilight thing.  He’s embarrassed by my enjoyment of it.  He is definitely not going to like this post.  So, before I go on, I would like to apologize to my husband for any embarrassment this may cause.

Twilight inspires many strong feelings–mania, insanity, disdain, disapproval, nausea.  I know the arguments and I’ve had to defend myself numerous times.  I never get very far before being shouted down.  Well, I want to explain, right now, on MY BLOG, why people who hate Twilight are wrong. 

1.  Twilight vampires are not real vampires. This argument is usually made by a guy.  First of all, if you’re a guy you have no business even talking about Twilight.  It’s not for guys.  Guys like kung fu movies where  a simple karate chop to the chest can, inexplicably, decapitate someone or where the laws of gravity are magically suspended, enabling kung fu masters to fly and fight at the same time.    That’s not real kung fu, but do they want their wives or girlfriends pointing that out?  No.  It’s not for girls. 

Secondly, there’s no such thing as a  “real vampire.”  I know there’s a weird society of goth freaks who drink blood and all that, but that doesn’t count.  If it does, I’m pretty sure they’re not affected by garlic, crucifixes, or sunlight.  Vampire myth varies from culture to culture anyway.   If Stephanie Meyer wants to make her vampires sparkle, it’s her business. 

2.  Vampires are evil and all books and movies about vampires are too.  If vampires existed, yes, they’d be evil.  In most movies and books, vampires are evil, and Twilight is no exception.  There just happens to be a very small number who aren’t.  There is usually a religious edge to this argument.  I find that very interesting, as Twilight deals primarily with “religious” themes.  It supports some of the most fundamental religious views.  Twilight is Pro-marriage, Pro-abstinence, and Pro-life.  Furthermore, the vampires themselves are really just a great big religious metaphor.  Vampires are “born” monsters.  They are driven by desires of the flesh.  Their natural inclination is to kill, to harm, to deceive, to ruin, and to copulate.  There are a select few who think this is wrong and choose to live in a different way.  They are outcasts.  Objects of ridicule.  Freaks.  Any of this sounding familiar?

3.  Twilight books are badly written “mainstream garbage”, not worthy of being read .   I read everything.  I’m not particularly interested in the opinion of “bookish” types who look down their upturned noses at any book that happens to sell well.  The “artsy” world congratulates itself on the nonsensical garbage it inflicts upon the world, mistaking megalomania for depth.  Are the Twilight books great literature?  No.  Are Twilight books serious reading?  No.  Is Stephanie Meyer a particularly talented writer?  No.  But one has to consider other factors when deciding if a book is “worth reading.”   I am interested in the underlying themes, and the fact that there are some, is a plus.  One also has to consider the intended audience.  It’s teenagers, for goodness sake.  Teenagers, who can’t concentrate long enough to read anything beyond a 140 character limit.  Reading is a habit that is developed over time.  Subject matters, but speaking as a mother of two daughters, there are worse things they could read than a book that encourages abstinence and finding a man who cares more for a young lady’s well-being than his own out-of-control hormones. 

To credit Stephanie Meyer, she frequently references “serious literature” in her books.  I was inspired to re-read Romeo and Juliet, Wuthering Heights, and all of Jane Austen while reading Twilight.  With any luck, others will be inspired, too. 

4.  Twilight is for teenage girls.  I concede this one.   So, why is it so popular with women?  Because all women were once teenaged girls.  It’s nice to go back to the time when all you had to worry about was whether or not a guy liked you.  It’s nice to remember the drama and overwhelming emotion of first love.  It’s in there, with a healthy dose of romantic idealism thrown in.  Twilight is basically Romantic fiction without all the quivering and heaving. 

That’s my defense of Twilight.  I’ve read the books more than once (I won’t admit how many more) and I’ve seen the movies (again, how many times is none of your business)  and I like them, despite the bad acting and lackluster production.  It’s absurd.  It’s juvenile.  It’s mindless.  It’s the perfect Guilty Pleasure.

A Little Shakespeare or The Price Is Right?

  

Today’s post is dedicated to my daughter Anna Grace.  This fabulous 15-month-old gave me a gift last week.  She was playing with the remote and kept changing the channel from “The Price Is Right” to the movie Hamlet, starring Laurence Olivier.  After the third time, I got interested and watched the whole movie.  And it was actually very good. 

What does it say about me when my 15-month-old has more refined tastes than I?

Anna is pictured above reading one of my favorite books, Anne of Green Gables

Out On a Limb

I know what you’re thinking.  Does the world really need another momblog?   Maybe not, but it’s getting one.

I decided to start a blog while looking for work from home opportunities.  Nearly every prospect listed “being an experienced blogger” as an asset.  Well, as someone who didn’t even have the internet in her home until 5 months ago, I knew I was at a disadvantage.  I had no idea how to start a blog so I did what everyone does when they want to know how to do something.  I Googled it.  Yikes.

While reading through countless articles, I got the basic idea.  Find a platform.  Find and research a  niche.  Start blogging.  Finding a platform was easy.  It had to be free.  It had to be designed so that a first grader could use it.  Mission accomplished.

Find a niche.  A no-brainer, right?  I’m a stay-at-home-mom and have been for 10 years, hence, a momblog.  So I Googled momblog and my computer nearly caught on fire.  There are momblogs for everything!  There are momblogs dedicated to parenting methods, green living, baby products, and terrible twos.  Some moms prefer to create online scrapbooks to share with the world.  Other moms concentrate on the trials of raising children with disabilities.  Still more moms use their blogs as a platform to simply vent their frustrations.  I was overwhelmed!  What was I supposed to do?  What else is there for a mom to write about?  EVERYTHING has been hashed and rehashed.

And then it came to me.  I had momfog.

What is momfog?

Momfog is the condition of a mother’s brain after countless hours of WonderPets, Spongebob Squarepants, and Yo Gabba Gabba!  It’s the result of being slobbered on, puked on, and peed on.  It’s the state of mind that says, “I have a free night! I think I’ll get caught up on laundry, playdate schedules, and rearranging the kids’ closet” and being HAPPY about it.

Do you remember when you had outside interests?  When your social life didn’t depend on ballet class or football practice?  It’s in there.  It’s just lost in the fog.

I’m not suggesting that life can ever be what it was before children.  Why would we want that anyway?  Children are awesome.  My children are who I am and it is my pleasure (most of the time) to go out of my way for them.  They define my life.  BUT, there is room in our lives for serious books, adult themed movies or theater, or ridiculously priced lattes in pretentious coffee shops.

I’m hoping this blog will be a place to discuss these things, ALONG WITH the crazy stories of motherhood and the unbelievable lengths our children will go to undermine our efforts to “branch out.”

So that’s momfog in a nutshell–a big coco de mer nutshell.  Future posts will be more the almond-sized variety.

FYI, the coco de mer nut is considered the largest nut in the world.  It can weigh up to 65 lbs.  See?  We’re already lifting the fog.

coco de mer nut                                  almond

http://www.slashfood.com/2006/11/20/worlds-largest-nuts/