Today I was playing with an online writing analysis tool that promised to tell me to which famous writer my writing style was most similar. I dumped several of my recent blog posts into the offered window, pressed the magical “Analyze” button and watched it whir until the author’s name kerchunked its way out. Now, I know you’re probably suspecting it said “William Faulkner,” as was I. I mean, my Dad’s side of the family could easily have been the models for any of the characters in Absalom, Absalom, The Hamlet, or As I Lay Dying. In fact, had those books not pre-dated many in my family, we could have easily raised a Southern stink about the whole thing. Seriously, if you had hauled your grandmother’s coffin all over the countryside trying to please her while also having to read her snarky thought bubbles, you’d see where we had a case.
Sadly, the magic machine didn’t spit out “William Faulkner” clearly demonstrating how flawed its analysis was and instead spit out a couple of names with which I’m not familiar – Wallace and Doctorow. Oh sure, crazy author generator, pick some random guys who never once showed up on any of my high school or college reading lists. As we all know this is the accepted benchmark for literary fame. If there aren’t Cliff Notes devoted to your life’s works, you’re nobody. Being mentioned in some random book club or noted on NPR doesn’t count. Freshman must cringe at the mention of your very name while combing your pages for the deeply embedded (invented) symbolism. Heated debates over whether you’re an “existential nihilist”, a “romantic”, or a “naturalist” should be occurring at 2am in dimly lit dorm rooms littered with take-out Chinese boxes. And your words should consume their brains and be quoted at least once in Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations. Those are the rules. That’s when you know you’ve arrived and can claim the title of “famous writer”.
Just for fun, I plugged in a couple more blog pieces and it spewed out “H.P. Lovecraft” and “Stephen King”. You know, I’m going to have to agree here. When I think, “who else besides Willie Faulkner do I write like when I blog” my mind immediately goes to “Lovecraft and King,” because I have to admit I am quite the psychological horror/thriller blogger. You guys probably aren’t surprised one bit especially after reading about the man-sized grasshopper that tried to eat my face, or was it the Cthuloid manifestation that was clogging the drain? or possibly the angry clown that lived in our possessed garbage disposal? One of those. It’s hard to keep track.
Well, I promise to keep bringing you my Lovecraft/King/Other Guys Who Aren’t on an Accepted Reading List blend of writing, if you promise to keep reading. Hey, Halloween IS just around the corner and I feel another spooky post coming on. Ok, I actually don’t. Maybe I’ll just go find an online test that tells me which character from Downton Abbey I’m more like instead (fingers crossed that it’s not Thomas) or maybe I’ll look for my soap opera name – something equally accurate.