Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Well, I’ll Be Flummoxed.

image This post probably sounds incredibly arrogant. I promise you: Whatever sounds arrogant below is just simple shock, that’s all.

So I was reading some stories over in pseudonym’s neck of the woods, and I came across an author who surprised me. I don’t know how to say this without sounding like a complete idiot, but my honest-to-God first reaction was: Ohmigawd, she’s imitating my style!

Of course, she’s probably not. Definitely not on purpose. It’s a small world, so I’d be surprised if she hadn’t read my stories (weekly), and it’s probably all just a random coincidence, but…

I can’t tell you how eerie it felt. I almost could have written it. I swear to God: I know my rhythm. I’ve never read anyone else with it. Ever.

I’m completely flummoxed.

imageIt’s eerie. The whole thing. It’s like all my trademark rhythms, styling, and punctuation were used. It’s not exactly the same, but there are definitely moments when I felt like I was reading an imitation of myself.

Whether coincidence, accident, or design, it’s no matter. It’s cool. I actually pride myself on being able to “hear” an author’s voice so well I could imitate it. No biggie. I find imitation to be a good exercise.

It was just completely surreal.

Has anything like that ever happened to you? Did it make you look twice to be sure you hadn’t written it while you were asleep and drugged or something? Have you ever studied an author’s voice until you know what makes them tick?

26 bonus scribbles:

Edie 2/12/2009 12:20:00 AM  

I don't know if this is the same thing, but I read an author for the first time and thought her voice was like mine. Not exactly the same, though, as in your situation.

This writer has since become a RITA winner. I hope that means good luck for me.

Janna Qualman 2/12/2009 07:45:00 AM  

Wow! No, I've never been through that, but it would take me for a loop. Wow!

Richmond Writer 2/12/2009 09:02:00 AM  

Brian Haig had that happen to him. He writes thrillers and he said one time he had spent 5 months working on a story and he's is about to turn it into his publisher ahead of deadline, he gets hold of another writer's manuscript and the man has written the entire thing so that it sounds and reads just like his. Only the competitor beat him to the punch and since he turned his in first Brain had 6 weeks to write a completely new novel.

StarvingWriteNow 2/12/2009 09:55:00 AM  

hmm... flattering in a creepy way, I'm sure! You'll have to watch that one.

Melanie Avila 2/12/2009 09:58:00 AM  

That's pretty cool that you were able to spot it. I don't know if I could.

I've had similar things happen to me with design. The majority of my work at the ad agency was creating ads for the newspaper, and quite often other car dealers would suddenly have ads that looked exactly like the ones we came up with. It is flattering, especially in an industry that believes so much of their business comes from that medium.

Charles Gramlich 2/12/2009 10:05:00 AM  

There's a writer named T. Chris Martindale who I think sounds quite a bit like me. I'm sure I was no influence on him, however, and I never read anything by him until after I'd already sold quite a few stories.

WendyCinNYC 2/12/2009 10:56:00 AM  

No, but I've noticed if I'm reading something with a particularly strong narrative voice, it will sometimes creep into my writing. So I try to stay away from novels that have similar themes and subject matter while I'm in the process of writing. I don't want my voice to keep shifting!

Sarah Laurenson 2/12/2009 11:31:00 AM  

I'm easily influenced by what I read or what I hear. I pick up accents as well as author voices. But it melds into what I've already got and then becomes a small part of my whole.

Kath Calarco 2/12/2009 11:42:00 AM  

I recently read a book, and saw my voice right there on the pages. Of course, it's impossible the author lifted my voice - I'm not published.

Like the saying goes, everyone has a twin. Maybe that goes for voice, too.

LaDonna 2/12/2009 12:03:00 PM  

Now, that would be creepy! I can't get the Nora/Dailey thing, that happened years ago, out of my mind either. What a stab in the back that would be. Glad Nora took it to court.

If it's serendipity, happens. If it's calculated and focused a little wierd. lol. The danger in imitation would be losing yourself in the process I think, and then where would you be?

Great blog btw!

Karen Olson 2/12/2009 04:32:00 PM  

It's almost like having an evil twin :)

Avery DeBow 2/12/2009 04:35:00 PM  

I try not to study an author too closely; I'm too spongy. I'm one of those people who spend three days in West Virginia and come out with an accent. I can only assume the same issue would apply to my writing.

I have yet to come across another who writes as I do. It's probably a good thing for them.

Lauren 2/12/2009 08:13:00 PM  

I love your pictures on this post. That's crazy that you found a writer taking notes after your voice.

spyscribbler 2/12/2009 11:08:00 PM  

Edie, I think the whole universe is pointing to good luck for you.

My "mirror" wasn't exactly the same. It was like looking in a distorted mirror. :-)

spyscribbler 2/12/2009 11:09:00 PM  

Totally, Janna! Totally!

spyscribbler 2/12/2009 11:10:00 PM  

Oh my gosh, Richmond! Now that sounds like a NIGHTMARE! I'm totally shuddering. I just can't imagine! It's no small task to finish a 100K thriller, and then for it all to be for naught?

Total shudder!

spyscribbler 2/12/2009 11:11:00 PM  

LOL, Writenow! It was sort of flattering, and then I told myself not to be silly. But I confess I did have a moment where I indulged my ego, LOL. :-0

spyscribbler 2/12/2009 11:12:00 PM  

Melanie, that's cool! And I've heard that agents and editors will randomly and suddenly get a slew of similar submissions.

It's something to do with the rhythm of the universe, I think!

spyscribbler 2/12/2009 11:12:00 PM  

Funky, Charles! That's kind of weird and cool! How does that happen?

spyscribbler 2/12/2009 11:13:00 PM  

Wendy, I don't blame you! Sometimes I have to go back and re-read my stuff a bit, to remember what my voice is like, LOL!

spyscribbler 2/12/2009 11:14:00 PM  

Sarah, I take sort of the same approach. I like to mix things in there. Is that called growing? LOL! :-)

spyscribbler 2/12/2009 11:15:00 PM  

Kath, didn't it feel surreal to you?

I think you've got a good point with the twin thing. Really weird in a fascinating way!

spyscribbler 2/12/2009 11:17:00 PM  

Oh, LaDonna, that's just awful. But she blatantly lifted whole passages, didn't she? That's really a betrayal!

I hesitate to say this, because it sounds really condescending, but I'm thinking this author is sort of still finding herself. But I can't tell, because it sounds like me, but a little off rhythm!

spyscribbler 2/12/2009 11:17:00 PM  

Hah, Karen! Like what Kath said, LOL!

spyscribbler 2/12/2009 11:19:00 PM  

Avery, you have a knack for picking brilliant words. I love that: "spongy." Oooh, and didn't you write a blog using the word "fleshy?"

Gosh. That's a way-"cool skill, Avery!

spyscribbler 2/12/2009 11:19:00 PM  

Lauren, I'm pretty sure it was unintentional, and it's no big deal, LOL. It was just surreal!