Internet personality quizzes are my Achilles heel. I enjoy finding out what interval best embodies my complex individuality (major 7th, as it happens) and what the shape of my letter A's says about me on a fundamental level. If I'd been around in the late eighteenth century I would have been totally into phrenology, though it pains me to admit it. But there's something eternally seductive about the idea that my self is just a code waiting to be decrypted. I'm always looking for the key. So when Twitter alerted me to the existence of I Write Like, I jumped all over it. Into the machine went my favorite part of a blog post on my recent honeymoon in Helsinki.
Um, really? I tried again, with a snippet from my rant about Red Dead Redemption.
This was going from bad to worse. I broke out the big guns. And by guns I mean penis -- I put in the steamy sex scene from my historical romance work-in-progress.
Obviously I should be working on a Cthulu love story. As Maggie Stiefvater said, "Kraken are the new vampires."
But wait. I had put in a sex scene -- and a very purplish one, at that. We've already seen Dan Brown's name, and someone else on the internet has gotten Stephen King, so modern (male) genre authors are totally bring-uppable. Is Lovecraft really the closest thing this site could get to a romance author?
Online I found an excerpt from Danielle Steele's The Journey, and put in a goodly chunk of text.
At this point I was getting a horrible feeling that whoever built this site did not think women could write anything significant, memorable, or worth imitating.
Of course, modern romance authors are still kind of ghettoized, sure. So I went classical, and pulled the start of chapter 38 from Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre. The one that begins, "Reader, I married him." Who does Charlotte Bronte Write Like?
Like hell she does. (For one thing, she lived about a century earlier than Joyce.) I put in the opening paragraphs from the same book.
At this point I started to go a little crazy, throwing anything and everything into that damn white frame on the site and growing increasingly sure that my outrage was more than just a figment of my imagination. Virginia Woolf's A Room of One's Own:
Virginia Woolf, Orlando:
By analogy, then, I write like Virginia Woolf, I guess, but this thought was merely a damp handkerchief against the vast Sahara of my frustration as I kept going.
A poem from Emily Dickinson:
Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale:
Naomi Wolf, The Beauty Myth:
If you've noticed there's an elephant in the room, sipping tea and wearing an empire-waist gown and arguing that the choice of who to marry is screamingly important when it's the only real choice you get to make in your entire life, you're correct. I'd been avoiding putting anything by Jane Austen in here, because honestly it would break my heart to see Jane Austen writing like James Joyce, or Dickens, or frakking Lovecraft. But the question had to be answered.
Jane Austen's beautiful, perfect opening scene from Pride and Prejudice:
Okay, that passage is pretty famous. I kept going.
Sense and Sensibility:
In conclusion: no female author has ever produced anything important unless they are Jane Austen.
A sly thought occurred. I went back to the Gutenberg Project, and looked up the truncated and very sarcastic History of England that Austen wrote in her youth. I entered this passage:
"The Character of this Prince has been in general very severely treated by Historians, but as he was a YORK, I am rather inclined to suppose him a very respectable Man. It has indeed been confidently asserted that he killed his two Nephews and his Wife, but it has also been declared that he did not kill his two Nephews, which I am inclined to beleive true; and if this is the case, it may also be affirmed that he did not kill his Wife, for if Perkin Warbeck was really the Duke of York, why might not Lambert Simnel be the Widow of Richard. Whether innocent or guilty, he did not reign long in peace, for Henry Tudor E. of Richmond as great a villain as ever lived, made a great fuss about getting the Crown and having killed the King at the battle of Bosworth, he succeeded to it. "