Inspiration: “Everything is a self-portrait. A diary.”

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I’m exhausted. Mentally exhausted. From reading this book: Diary, Chuck Palahniuk. It’s about a woman who you think is crazy, writing a diary about her crazy life, and her crazy mother-in-law, and crazy husband, laying like a vegetable in a coma from an attempted suicide. I had to reread the last two chapters to get to where I THINK I understand the ending. Think. I’m still not sure. I’m DYING to speak to someone who has read this book. I need to talk about it. It’s one of those books that you read and are awed by, but then you put it down and say “WHAT?!”

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So, I teach a creative writing class (as many of my audience knows. I’m sorry if I’m repetitive here). In it, I’d long ago come across a website that determines your writing style. You cut an paste some of your writing into the blank space, and it matches your style up with a notable author.

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 I Write Like…

I copy and pasted this (part of one of my novels) in the blank space:

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And… my result: Chuck Palahniuk.

Whom I had never read, but over and over students selected Fight Club for independent reading. I found there are students who are completely devoted fans of Palahniuk’s writing and those who are not. There doesn’t seem to be much middle ground. I’d seen the film Fight Club and loved it!

And, now, I know why. A student recommended this book. He said I’d like it. I do. But I don’t see the connection in our writing styles per se except that we both write in first person and stream of consciousness.

So, they say IMITATION IS THE HIGHEST FORM OF FLATTERY (a phrase coined by Charles Caleb Colton, 19th century English cleric and writer). I became so curious about how my writing style is like Palahniuk’s that I began conceiving of a story in the voice of a narrator like the narrator in Diary. As the story came to me… the words rushed into my head in a narrator’s voice, and I wrote them down. Now, in taking a step back, I’m not sure I can sustain a voice like this (so incredibly fluid, choppy, non-linear, digressive, pointed…) for an entire novel.

I do this. I conceive of  a skeletal version of a story and begin by writing in the voice of the narrator before fleshing out the details. That’s where I am right now. That’s how Chuck Palahniuk’s novel Diary inspired me.

So, here I go.

2 thoughts on “Inspiration: “Everything is a self-portrait. A diary.”

  1. So, Donna, I did the “I Write Like” thing. I submitted the first few paragraphs from my WIP, and it came back Stephen King. I submitted the last few paragraphs, and it came back Robert Louis Stevenson. My question is “Have I been working on this novel way too long?” 😉

    1. LOL 😉 I didn’t try submitting the last part of the novel. I’m sure it just picks up on a few stylistic qualities from your submission and attaches it to a similar author.

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