Day 728: I Write Like ___ ______

Yesterday,  I discovered the website I Write Like. After I had finished writing a blog post — like I have been writing here on WordPress every day for the past two years — I spent some time checking out which famous authors I Write Like thought I wrote like.

Here are the authors I Write Like told me I write like, after “reading” several of my blog posts:

David Foster Wallace

Cory Doctorow

Mario Puzo

Dan Brown

James Joyce

H.P. Lovecraft

… with  David Foster Wallace and Cory Doctorow getting the vast majority of the write-like votes.

Here’s what I’d like to write, like myself,  about those results:

  • While I’ve read things written by James Joyce, H. P. Lovecraft, and Dan Brown, I’ve never heard of Cory Doctorow.
  • I’m particularly pleased that James Joyce was written into that list, since he and I have the same birthday.
  • Yesterday, I kept entering samples of my writing into I Write Like, hoping to find out that I write like some of my favorite writers, like Jane Austen, Anne Tyler, George Eliot, and Joseph Heller.
  • Who knows how I Write Like writes like they can tell how you write?
  • I’ve heard of the late David Foster Wallace — whom I Write Like thinks I write the most like — but I haven’t read anything he’s written.

I have some reactions about admitting that last point, which now reminds me of the following story, which I’ve told friends, but have never written, like, before today.

A True Story I’ve Never Written, Before Today

by Ann

When I was a senior at a fancy-shmancy, hoity-toity college majoring in English Literature, I wrote my honors thesis on my favorite author, Jane Austen.  The name of that thesis (as best I can remember and write like the 61-year old person I am) was:

Perception and Judgment in the Novels of Jane Austen

Two faculty members from the English Department of my college read my thesis, and they gave me significantly different scores  — a very high one and a lower than average one. I guess those two readers had very different opinions about what I wrote like.

However, my course grades and other criteria were good enough to put me solidly on the road to graduating

Magna Cum Laude

from

A Very Impressive University!

Near the end of the school year, my Senior Year Advisor told me that — because there were too many people with high grades — the English Department had decided to add an additional requirement, for the honors candidates.

The new requirement was an Oral Exam, where I would be questioned by three faculty members.

My advisor told me that  my personal Oral Exam Board would be:

  • an expert on American Literature,
  • an expert on Celtic Literature, and
  • an expert on Renaissance Literature

which didn’t exactly match my specialty, 18th Century English literature.  He also told me that those three people on my orals board were …. not very nice.

Nevertheless, I entered the room, the day of my oral exam, with hope and some amount of confidence. I mean, I was solidly on track to graduating

Magna Cum Laude

from

A Very Impressive University!

Here’s the opening dialog, oh so many years ago,  between me and the Orals Board:

Orals Board Examiner:  I see that you did your thesis on Jane Austen.  Did you know that Mark Twain said that she should not have been allowed to die a natural death?

Me (trying to look like I thought that was a good question): Yes, I’m aware of that. Mark Twain also praised a friend’s library just because he did not have any of her books.

Orals Board Examiner:  So?  What do you think of that?

Me: (pause):   I would rather not talk about Austen that way.

I remember seeing displeasure written all over the faces of the Orals Board. And the experience went downhill,  from there. It’s written, very clearly in my memory, those three saying things to me, throughout the exam, like:

You’re an English major HERE and you haven’t read THAT?!??!

To this day, I am grateful that I did not cry in front of my Orals Board. However, as soon as the door closed behind me after I left the room, I burst into tears.

I remember people I knew at school not believing me when I told them I had failed the oral exam miserably. (Apparently, people thought I wrote like somebody who did well on exams.) One friend, who knew somebody on my Orals Board, said, “I’ll talk to him. I’m sure you did fine.” I remember the look written on my friend’s face when he returned with the news that yes, indeed, I had failed the oral exam miserably.

That’s not the end of the story I’m writing — like a WordPress blogger — today.  I advocated for myself, by going to the Chairman of the English Department to ask for another chance. I remember, very clearly, this dialog with him (and the expressions written on his face, also):

Me: For whatever reason, I choked during that Orals Exam. I got really scared and my mind went blank. I don’t express myself well in those kinds of situations. All my other grades show that I deserve a Magna Cum Laude. All I’m asking is that you give me another Orals Board, with people on it who are specialists in my area of expertise.

The Chairman of the English Department (with “no” written all over his face): I don’t think so. You’re expressing yourself very well and articulately now,  Ann.

Me: (thinking about that for a moment): How about this, then?  The two readers of my thesis gave me very different grades. Could I have another reader for that?

The Chairman of the English Department: No.

That was all (s)he wrote. So, I did not graduate

Magna Cum Laude

from

A Very Impressive University!

Instead, I graduated

Cum Laude

from

A University that Was Then Less Impressive To Me

which is still quite honorable, don’t you think?

A few months ago, I wrote this blog post, which helped me let go of any lingering regret, disappointment, and feelings of injustice, from that long-ago experience.

Unfortunately, something else has lingered, from that day. Whenever I admit that I haven’t read something by somebody famous like David Foster Wallace, I can hear and see those three people on that Oral Exam Board saying

You haven’t read WHAT??!??!?!

… with looks of utter contempt, written all over their faces.

Perhaps, my writing like this, today, will silence those particular internalized critics, forever. And, perhaps it will rewrite my sensitivity to the expressions on other people’s faces.

Now, my dear readers of what I write like, here on WordPress, I am going to re-visit I Write Like, enter this here blog post on that there website, and find out which writer I Wrote Like, today.

Aha!  I Write Like does NOT think I wrote like David Foster Wallace today. Instead, that judgment board thinks I Write Like

H. P. Lovecraft

who, according to WikiPedia, writes like an influential writer of horror fiction.

Well,  I’m glad that I Write Like is not writing that I write like an influential writer of horrible fiction.

I wonder if there’s also a website called I Shoot Like, which could tell me which famous photographer takes pictures like these:

IMG_4241 IMG_4244 IMG_4246 IMG_4250 IMG_4252 IMG_4254 IMG_4256 IMG_4258

IMG_4261 IMG_4269 IMG_4274 IMG_4279 IMG_4280 IMG_4283 IMG_4284 IMG_4285 IMG_4298 IMG_4299 IMG_4301 IMG_4305 IMG_4307

Do any famous writers on I Write Like use music, like I do?

(Don’t know much about a lot of things, but the official title of that song — found here on YouTube — is “Wonderful World” by Sam Cooke, who wrote like Sam Cooke.)

Feel free to write like you do, to tell me who or what you thought I wrote like, today.

Thanks to everybody, everywhere, who writes like they choose, which includes you, of course!

Categories: inspiration, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , | 52 Comments

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52 thoughts on “Day 728: I Write Like ___ ______

  1. You write like the unique individual you are!

  2. Well put, writersdream9! I believe you are right, and I hope Ann feels the same.

  3. I think today you wrote a lot like Ann Koplow, a graduate of a very well-lived life. Oh, you are still matriculating at the university of hard-knocks. Write On!

    I work hard every time not to retreat to that place I used to go when my father gave me his you-should-know-that look AND lecture whenever I did not know something he deemed I should know many, many times we were together, Ann. Finally I decided it was because he felt badly that he didn’t know it.

    Also today, I finally know that you revealed your like of my top 10 list with a very nice comment on my post at the syracusenewtimes.com site. Thank you, Ann!

    I have to visit I Write Like at some point today. I think I lot of us will thanks to this post! I wouldn’t mind Michael Connelly, Nelson DeMille, John Grisham, John Irving, our common envy Anne Tyler …

    • I love the way you write like yourself, Mark.

      And I Write Like thinks this comment of yours is written like … James Joyce! And that Top 10 Movie list you wrote? David Foster Wallace.

      No wonder we like each other’s writing!

  4. feverdreams

    I haven’t encountered any author who writes like you do – maybe I don’tdon’t read enough. I like what you write like, though. Curious about that site – will definitely be checking it out. As for that university – I have heard of/experienced many similar situations. It’s silly how literature has become steeped in much intellectual snobbism that doing what you love, and doing that well, is not enough unless you can please some high-up person’s idiosyncrasies. Also, Jane Austen rocks the world.

  5. One of the things you made me think of, is how as youngsters, we try so very hard to be like others. We compare and contrast ourselves with people we know, and people we think we know, in an effort to be liked and validated. And when we grow up, its our unique qualities that make us stand out to people like perspective employers. It’s a push me pull you type of world we live in. And as I know that I am a unique individual, when it comes to writing, I can only strive to find my own unique voice; as should everyone. Besides, i wasn’t an English major and have not read many of the “classics.”

    Sorry you were judged by such subjective means in college.

    • Thank you so much for this kind comment, which you wrote exactly like you. I feel a lot less pushed and pulled after reading your unique voice.

  6. You write like a very intelligent person with a very big heart who would never humiliate a student or anybody else. What those arrogant professors did to you was reprehensible. Maybe you could write a piece for the New Yorker (or someplace like that) about that experience and save some young person from jumping off a bridge.

    My kids are fans of Cory Doctorow. One of the great things about Cory Doctorow is that he makes his work available for free. Little Brother is one of his most popular books. You can download it here, if you want to: http://craphound.com/littlebrother/download/

    • Thank you, from the bottom of my big heart, Maureen. If I Write Like had said that I write like you, I would have been very, very happy.

  7. It’s interesting that the site only came up with male writers to compare you to. I think that the algorithm they were using was a little faulty. I wonder how many works by female writers they fed into their system?

  8. The way you write always engages me, Ann, as do your photos!
    And I agree wit Maureen. How many female writers were considered “important” enough to be read?

    • I’m so glad you write exactly like Emilie. Thanks for this kind, engaging, and agreeable comment, which is very important to me.

  9. Thinks … sometimes ignorance is bliss.
    Letting go and re-framing is always better 🙂

    I was a history major and was told I was too verbose.
    And so I adapted and used fewer words.

    I miss those beautiful abundance of words and the art of wordsmithing.
    I now find them with you

  10. Screw all those professors! Screw all those writers we’ve never heard of! The world doesn’t need another drone/clone/bone – it desperately needs an Ann!

  11. Nice post, Ann. Thought provoking.
    While coaching i often attended clinics, hosted by other coaches, where I would take notes on those things that I thought would work well with my team. We all share some of ourselves with others whether through the written word or action. That which is in tune with us we blend in with our product.
    But, despite what we pick up along the way, what we do or write, is truly unique to us. Just as our finger prints are like no others so too is the soul and conscience that motivates us. And that is what we must answer too.
    Opinions of others may effect us, especially those of our friends and loved ones. Yet, the only opinion that truly matters is that of God. For even we can fool ourselves, but God can’t be fooled nor does He fool.
    I believe you write like you, and wouldn’t enjoy it more any other way.
    -Alan

  12. You write well. Keep writing!

  13. Should of choked the Orals Board.

  14. Kentucky Angel

    You write like an intelligent lady who knows the Orals Board didn’t know what they were talking about. I’m betting they didn’t know anything about Austin themselves, therefore had to make you look small to boost their own ego. Keep on writing like Ann Koplow, and don’t even try to write like someone else, because then you will be a copyist, rather than a writer.

  15. If it’s any consolation, David Foster Wallace has been on “to be read” pile for ages but keeps getting bumped off for one reason or another. The Orals experience sounds ridiculously unfair and I can’t imagine how you were supposed to answer those questions in a way that would have put you in a favorable light. BTW, I had a wonderful drive in the country a few weeks ago listening to an interview about Sam Cooke. A very interesting character, he was.

  16. I do like the way you write

  17. I love that website. I write like somebody different just about every time.

  18. Glad you stumbled upon my crazy little blog, very impressive bio, and you certainly have master the English language. By the way you know that those authors you have listed, well I wasn´t in there….so by default aren´t you judging me saying I don´t write well? 😉

    Looking forward to reading more of your blog.

    • Thanks for this comment and for forgiving me for not including you in that list! I look forward to reading much more from somebody who writes exactly like Charly Priest.

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  20. I enjoy your sharing experiences of this type. Always continue pursuing your interest in your writing and literature. I’ve also been in the healthcare field (OT) I just don’t mention it because I practice on and off. I always had many interests and abilities, like you.😊

  21. I enjoyed playing on that site long ago and while it is amusing I don’t think it tells us much about our writing. Who needs ‘experts’ to tell us if our writing is worth anything? The only thing that matters is if we’re statisfied with our own writing and do others like to read it!

  22. Wow, that’s one heck of a story and I feel very deep sympathy for you carrying that experience all this time. I have experienced a similar, but much less important version of this scene – but it still rankles! I wonder if, like me, you tend to conform to how people expect you to behave? Never mind the details, but I worked as an research assistant for someone accustomed to dealing with patients and who had decided that I would be illogical and fanciful and if I suggested anything would enter into a Socratic questioning mode designed to reveal these flaws… and I failed his little tests time after time. Previous to this I had spent three happy and productive years with brilliant supervisors completing my PhD. I think those guys examining you had decided, on sight, that would not know what THEY deemed important and went to some trouble to prove it… you sensed their presumption and knew you were being boxed into the wrong corner. I’d better stop there!

    • Thanks for this helpful and illuminating comment, Hilary. The English Department wanted to get the grades down that year, so that agenda dictated that they would automatically be harshly judgmental. I believe there was a sexist factor at play there, too. I say this based on the experiences of my friends who were also English honors candidates that year, who had to take those added-at-the-last-minute Oral Exams also. Sorry to hear you had to deal with another’s harsh critical judgments, too. We don’t deserve those!

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