portrait of the author as a middle aged woman

Thanks to the wonders of Facebook quizzes, I now know that the Harry Potter character I most resemble is Tonks, my Disney Princess alter ego is Belle, I am a night fairy, and I should live in Denver. I have to admit, all these are OK. (Except I’d rather live on the ocean.) The only one that really disturbed me was the “what famous author’s psychosis do you have?” I got Edgar Allen Poe. Not a good sign.


But the ‘test’ that concerns me the most as I enter this writing a novel in the month of November venture is the one sent by a fellow writer. You plug in samples of your writing, and it analyzes them and tells you which famous writer you are most like. I put in several samples and got several responses, but one came up repeatedly. “Your writing style is that of James Joyce.”


Now, on one hand, who would argue with being compared to what literary experts call one of our greatest writers? In fact, according to Wikipedia, “In 1999, the Modern Library ranked Ulysses first on its list of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century.” At 265,000 words, I wonder about its sales record, though. The only problem here is, in my entire college career as a literature major, there was only one author whose work I truly despised. I left my Intro to Brit Lit copy of Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man in a cab. I swear it was an accident. Yep–James Joyce.


I had no idea what the man was saying, and he took a long time to say it. Yikes–is that what my work looks like to unsuspecting readers? I prefer to believe that his name came up because I do tend to write in a stream of consciousness, random fashion. I hope, though, that in the end, it makes sense to people. Looking through the first five chapters of this novel in a month (no I do not work that fast; I had already finished three), I can see that the main character is extremely random. That, I like to think, is her charm. But if she goes the way of James Joyce, I am going to be in trouble with readers.


How, how did a Jane Austen, Shakespeare, C.S. Lewis loving writer get James Joyce?? I do not know. But in writing as in life, it is always best to stick with the style that says ‘you.’ You can work with it, evolve it, mix it around a bit, but in the end, your best success lies in being the unique person God made you. So, I guess I’ll stick with Joyce, for better or worse. I promise though, no 265,000 word novels. Really, who could get that done in a month?

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