Tuesday, July 27, 2010

It’s Like This



There’s a new website that’s getting a thousand, maybe a hundred thousand, hits a day. Some of us are just that desperate.

“I Write Like” invites you to plug in your own cherished bit of prose and then spin the wheel. In less than ten seconds you’ll be told you have the makings of the next James Joyce or Mark Twain.

The one match you'll never get from “I Write Like” is You Write Like crap.

Reminds me of that era when people were paying good money to be told they were Cleopatra or Thomas Beckett in a past life. You ordered the building of the pyramids; you didn’t push the rocks, wash the camels, or clean the dunnies.

I knew this guy, Kenneth, who used to pay a mystic $200 an hour for a reading on his past lives. And this mystic would morph from Brad, the gay surfer dude, into Eckton, a spirit from another planet who sounded strangely similar to Jonathan Harris in Lost in Space. “I can see you once lived in the island lands,” is one Eckton phrase that sticks in my mind. Kenneth taped all the sessions and used to play them at his dinner parties. (What can I say? His paella was to die for.)

If you want to have fun with I Write Like, plug in something by a published writer. Fitzgerald’s last graph from Great Gatsby? Ursula Le Guin. Shakespeare’s Tomorrow speech from Macbeth? Charles Dickens.

This gets addictive. Harper Lee? Ernest Hemingway. My Canon user manual? Stephen King. Ok, they might be right on that one.

Can you tell I’m trying to avoid some real work right now? You can? That’s because you’re smart; smart like Einstein, Fineman, or Hawking.

42 comments:

Brenda's Arizona said...

But if you did your own writing, Karin, would it see the F.S.Fitzgerald in you?

Love your idea!
(just got home from seeing "Winter's Bone" - are you going to see it, per Banjo52's recommendation?)

WV: bemetio. Wasn't he a ruler in Italy?

Anonymous said...

What we won't do for a pat on the back.

(Wow. That's pure J.D. Salinger.)

BANJO52 said...

I don't know if I KNEW you were procrastinating, but I'm not surprised to hear it. ON the other hand, this is kinda interesting stuff. You might be as close to Vonnegut as you are to
Fitzgerald. Witty, lean, punching while casual, the substance under the surface breeze--doesn't sound like Fitz to me.

Brenda, you're torturing me. What did you think?

altadenahiker said...

Sorry, Banjo. The Vonnegut wasn't for me -- that was for the Wells Fargo customer service letter.

(But I will take your nice words to the bank.)

Carolynn said...

I've always been of the same mind...why is it that everyone was some form of royalty in their past life? Never a scullery maid or highwayman.

As far as not wanting to do any work goes...I just took the afternoon off to go to the dentist. The lengths, I'll go to, I tell ya.

BaysideLife said...

If you do this multiple times, does that result in a multiple personality complex? or do you have to then pick just one. I hate multiple choice.

My WV is vetris, which makes me think of vet which makes me want to know how Vandy is doing?

Mister Earl said...

And if you get tired of that, try anagraming your name:

ANAGRAM YOUR NAME

More fun if you include your middle name.

Mister Earl said...

A passage from Fitzgerald's "Winter Dreams" came out the James Fenimore Cooper. But an anagram of Ernest Hemingway comes out "Sneer, weighty man."

Virginia said...

I write like crap and they'll probably tell me so. I paid a "mystic" in Dallas Tx in college to look into the future and tell me about my boyfriend. Don't worry Hiker, I'm not about to try that again.

You don't need those Bozos to tell you you're good. That's what we're here for.
V

altadenahiker said...

It's fun, I tell you. Put in the instructions on your Raid can and it says you write like Kafka.

Paula said...

V, not to worry, according to "I Write LIke", you write like JD Salinger.

Paula said...

and Hiker, you're channeling Raymond Chandler.

Paula said...

and Cory Doctorow. Me too.

wv uneedly
This exercise is uneedly.

Mister Earl said...

Put in the first chapter of the King James bible and it thinks it's James Joyce. Cut it down to the first four verses and it thinks it's Margaret Atwood. Take out another verse and you've got H. G. Wells. Seems like it needs some advanced programmers.

Mister Earl said...

"I Write Like" reminds me of those magazine ads "So you think you can write" or "So you think you can draw" where they want to sell you a course. Reminds me of the part of the movie "Crumb" where Crumb and his brother both submit a drawing to one of those magazine ads. The brother was a better artist than Crump, but he was also way out on the edge. The guy from the magazine ad came to Crump's house to sell him an art course, but he completely ignored the brother, whose drawing completely scared the crap out of him.

altadenahiker said...

My shampoo bottle: Next, lightly squeeze the shampoo from roots to ends without scrubbing or roughing up to eliminate tangling.

David Foster Wallace, thank you very much.

Anonymous said...

Someone, please. Make it stop. I'm putting in the Yellow Pages.

--Ray Bradbury

Mister Earl said...

And yet, add "avocado" almost anywhere to your shampoo bottle and you come up with Margaret Atwood. Add "french fried" and you get Vladimir Nabakov. I'm now beginning to understand literature. If only they had this when I was in high school.

James Joyce said...

Jewel in the crown, Mr. Earl. Your last line is Wodehouse.

Mister Earl said...

Is "A. Third Grader" a famous author? That's what keeps coming up when I copy and paste from my blog.

Shell Sherree said...

A morsel from Hamlet's soliloquy came up with Bram Stoker. Perhaps it was the word 'death' that did it. I'll work my way through the pantry next.

Susan Campisi said...

At least you wrote something while procrastinating. And intriguing as always. But I'll steer clear of that site. I don't need another addiction.

Okay, I can't help myself. I typed in a paragraph of my own writing from the Tommy blog and got... Cory Doctorow? I've never heard of him.

Vanda said...

But I do write like H. P. Lovecraft!

You know, there is another web site out there that tells you if you write as a male or female. In my case: both.

bandit said...

I write like crap and have my own blog to prove it!

altadenahiker said...

I don't know Susan, but Bandit got him, too. I'm afraid that does mean you can't hold a candle to my Raid can. (Nor should you, according to its Kafkaesque warning.)

Terry B, Blue Kitchen said...

Brilliant, Karin! Regarding fortune tellers, a stand-up comic once asked, "Do you really want to take the advice of someone who lives in a storefront?"

Pasadena Adjacent said...

I like Bandit's comment. Shoot, what's wrong with Stephen King? It was revealed that my writing style matches a can of Raid

Brenda's Arizona said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Brenda's Arizona said...

Susan, I got Cory Doctorow, too. He's an activist for liberalizing copyright laws, etc. As a librarian, I hear bad stuff about him all the time from my seniors. I have no opinion - but he seems to think about the big picture. He writes for BoingBoing. More than you wanted to know, right?

Karin, still thinking about that Banjomyn movie. VERY good, very haunting. I liked it. More after I process it.

Jean Spitzer said...

Very funny. . . . there's also a celebrity look-alike site, so you could, for example, look like Madonna and write like Doctorow.

Susan Campisi said...

Who knew a can of Raid had such literary merit?

Brenda's Arizona, thanks for the info on Cory Doctorow. More writing to explore...

Marjie said...

Now if only it would tell me I write like Dorothy Kunhardt, author of Pat the Bunny, one of the best selling books ever.

Petrea said...

I Write Like has only about 10 authors, so you have a 10% chance of "writing like Stephen King." Et cetera.

altadenahiker said...

Hmmm, I went online and NY Times has been putting in famous authors too (apparently there are 50 possible matches). However, I don't believe any other source thought to try Wells Fargo, Raid, and L'Oreal. Or the Bible, for that matter.

Mister Earl said...

Well we're pretty friggin' special out here in the 'denas. What's the NY Times coming up with? In all seriousness, that has to be one of the worst programs ever created in terms of accomplishing what it's supposed to accomplish. Now you have all these people running around middle America thinking they write like Salinger, Joyce, Hemingway, and Fitzgerald. But we know better. We know that Fitzgerald is a dead ringer for James Fenimore Cooper and that Kafka is equalled by a bunch of twenty-something tech writers working for a chemical company.

Mister Earl said...

By the way, Kurt Vonnegut = Overt Gunk Nut

Ken Mac said...

hey! I write like Cory Doctorow! Whoever the crap that is....

altadenahiker said...

Somebody throw some water on Earl; he's fallen and he can't get up.

Margaret said...

Well, it told me I was like Steven King. I think it's because I am so dark and full of horror.

Petrea said...

Me too, Margaret.

Amy said...

When I grow up, I wanna write like the Wells Fargo letter. Such emotion!!


Great post Karin.

Bec said...

You never should have told me this . . . new thing to play with on the internet :)