Wednesday, July 28, 2010

COLUMN: I Write Like

I've always known that I was an Important Writer of Great Importance. Now I've finally got all the proof I need, without any of the bother of, you know, having to write important stuff.

A fella's got to have priorities in life, and I'm no different: (1) Fame. (2) Fortune. (3) Enough fame and fortune that I can eventually rule the world with an iron-hard fist while you, my epic fanbase of minions, do my (presumably) evil bidding. I'm not quite sure what kind of evil bidding will be on the future agenda, but that's a figure-it-out-as-you-go process, I reckon.

The only problem is convincing you, the editors, and the entire world of my great literative power. But thanks to the internet, I now have all the answers I need.

It's a website that's gaining hits by the tens of thousands every day: I Write Like ( The concept is simple: You, the aspiring author/blogger/journalist, upload the column/story/manifesto of your choice, and the website immediately tells you what famous writer of yore that yore, errr, YOUR writing style most resembles. Could you be the next Sylvia Plath? Ernest Hemingway? Shane Brown? This site holds those answers.

It reaches its conclusion by examining your writing sample and putting it through a battery of tests, isolating your language, meter, and vocabulary choices via a sequential algorithm of synergy thusly maxified and redacted through the cosine of Pi squared and... and...

Okay, heck, I have no idea how it reaches its results. It could be science. It could be magic. It could be a little dude living inside the website who flips a coin. I honestly have no clue. But it's on the internet, so it MUST be a credible and accurate tool by which to judge your writing ability, no?

So tonight I'm going to have proof positive once and for all of my awesomeness. I'm going to enter a few of my most recent columns into the I Write Like site, and then I'll find out which cherished writer you'll be able to compare my future works to as I rise up and eclipse the competition.

My two most recent columns about moving into my new house remind the site of David Foster Wallace. This is kinda cool, as David Foster Wallace was a pretty brilliant guy and a great author. The problem, though, is that David Foster Wallace was also a bag of problems whose declining mental health amounted to a way-too-small handful of genius work before he sadly took his own life at 46. So that's a bum deal - I don't want fame and fortune if it comes with a tragic downward spiral, thanks. Let me try some other columns.

Hmm, here we go. It turns out that the columns I wrote recently about my trip to Missouri remind the site of none other than Beloved American Humorist Mark Twain -- possibly the best comparison that an aspiring humor columnist might want to attain, eh? Clearly, the complex logic of this website was able to see my wit and topical banter and compare it positively to that of a true national treasure. And the fact that those vacation columns repeatedly used the words "Missouri," "Huck Finn," and, yes, even "Mark Twain" -- well, that should be dismissed as pure coincidence.

Then there was the column I wrote a while back about mowing my yard, which the "I Write Like" site just informed me is comparable to the work of Chuck Palahniuk, the American master of transgressive fiction, which the Atlantic Monthly defines as "a literary genre that graphically explores such topics as incest and other aberrant sexual practices, mutilation, urban violence, drug use..." -- and, apparantly, lawn mowing. This proves that I'm so cool, I don't just mow my lawn -- I mow it TRANSGRESSIVELY. Heck yeah. Except that I really, really, really can't stand Palahniuk or his writing style or his annoying books.

This isn't working. I need a definitive answer as to who I Write Like. David Foster Wallace is too fragile, Mark Twain's too folksy, and Chuck Palahniuk is just plain annoying. So that's why I've just fed the last fifty columns that I've written into the website. I need an overall consensus as to the beloved author I best emulate. And I can now proudly proclaim to you all that you're bound to love me if you're a fan of...


Wait, who? I have NO idea who that is. Let me look him up... hmm. I might have just lost some nerd cool points. Cory Doctorow is apparantly a science fiction writer from Canada who contributes loads to nerd culture. He also looks a heck of a lot like the "I'm a PC" guy from those Mac ads. And of my last fifty columns, over half of them remind this dumb website of this guy.

Suddenly I feel not so Important after all. Where's Hemingway? Irving? Fitzgerald? Heck, I'll even settle for John Grisham. But nooooo. I get compared to some nerd savant guy. My dreams of global domination are fading. At best, maybe I could position myself as Ruler of the Nerds with an iron-hard pocket protector, while my epic fanbase of nerd minions do my evil nerd bidding, like destroying your credit rating or only giving my least favorite movies on Netflix one star.

But here's where it gets interesting. I wanted to find out how smart the brain of this website is, so I went online and I found a short story written by none other than Cory Doctorow called "The Things That Make Me Weak & Strange Get Engineered Away" (note to self: with a title like that, maybe I would actually enjoy Cory Doctorow.) But I just took THAT story and fed the entire thing into the I Write Like website. Guess what?

Cory Doctorow writes like... STEPHEN KING. And I write like Cory Doctorow. Ergo, I WRITE LIKE STEPHEN KING! And if there's one simple fact about Stephen King, it is that CLEARLY THE MAN HAS FAME AND FORTUNE.

So you heard it here first, Quad Cities. I am the next Stephen King -- just with a little David Foster Wallace, Mark Twain, Chuck Palahniuk, and Cory Doctorow thrown in for good measure. I think my first novel will be an ironic look at a tennis academy that spawns a kid who rafts down the Mississippi and starts a fight club for nerds... until a possessed car and a rabid St. Bernard kill everyone. The end.

Trust me, you will LOVE it.

Oh, and as for "I Write Like," I now KNOW the site's legit. I just fed it the lyrics from the modern treasure "Pimpin' Ain't EZ," by Snoop Dogg -- and it turns out that Snoop Dogg writes just like... William Shakespeare. I am SO headed for greatness.

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