Understanding Life Through Stories

Month: July 2016

Lizzie Bennet Diaries On Finding a Dream Job

Oh Lizzie Bennet Diaries, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

This webseries adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice took off in early 2012. It was the first of its kind – a scripted vlog series posing as a real blog series, taking the characters and situations from a literary classic and transplanting them to modern day.

So, if you know the story of Pride and Prejudice, the emotional plot of LBD follows a similar path of miscommunications, prejudices, and stubbornness, eventually leading to a happy conclusion.

A quick breakdown for those who don’t care about spoilers (last warning!):

Lizzie, a passionate 24-year-old grad student, sets out to document the life of herself, her cynical best friend Charlotte Lu, and her two sisters, beautiful and adorably sweet Jane, and wild party animal Lydia, as they fend off the matchmaking of their old-fashioned mother.

When single medical student Bing Lee comes to town with fashionista sister Caroline and stuffy friend William Darcy, Jane and Bing’s attraction leads to Lizzie having to deal with Darcy, whose initial impression of her being only “decent enough”… well… doesn’t give her the best impression of him.

Simultaneously, graduation is fast approaching, and swift changes in her life, from Charlotte and Jane moving away, to family financial and personal troubles, to the reveal of Darcy’s affections and true character, make Lizzie question her life and career choices.

In the end, Lizzie learns to see past her prejudices, appreciates her familial relationships, begins a relationship with Darcy, and makes the decision to start a business of her own after graduation.

I didn’t catch onto it until over midway through the run, but I quickly fell in love. When the companion novel The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet came out a year later, I downloaded the audiobook, voiced by the actress who played Lizzie in the original series, and felt like I was reliving the best of it all over again.

Additionally, I have discussed the series previously in comparison to Disney’s Frozen and in comparison to the film You’ve Got Mail, also inspired by Pride and Prejudice.

So, why do I love this series so much? And why is it relevant to getting a dream job?

4 Things Children’s Books Teach About Marketing

As I go through the Startup Institute program, the one thing that comes up over and over again is that we all have unique backgrounds and skills that can be applied in the new career path we’ve chosen (in my case, marketing).

So here’s my story, career-wise:

I was in children’s publishing for a year, helping to publish books for ages 3-18. (Well, over a year if you count the NYU classes in publishing I took before that.)

I loved working on books for younger readers, as middle grade (audience ages 9-12) and some YA (young adult, ages 12-18) books were so formative for me in my childhood. Like not just Harry Potter, but also books ranging from the popular Percy Jackson series to the lesser-known Theatre Illuminata trilogy.

The thing is, I wasn’t in marketing. I wasn’t even in editorial, which is the most popular position in publishing. I was in managing editorial – the proofreading and formatting of the book, dealing with production materials. This is very behind-the-scenes, very unsung work, but all too necessary.

And because managing editorial is basically the hub connecting the editors and designers and marketers, I feel that, while I wasn’t in marketing directly, my publishing experience did teach me quite a bit about it.

So here are four things I learned from children’s books, and from working on them:

Virtual Reality and Science Fiction


On Friday morning, my cohort at Startup Institute had a fireside chat with Aaron Nicholson, who is involved in the growing industry of virtual reality, or VR.

Now obviously, since this person was invested in the development of VR, he had a lot to say about the ways virtual reality can be used in gaming, film, health, psychology, and other such fields.

And, even having not experienced the Samsung virtual reality goggles that were passed around, I could see how this was intriguing technology, an extension of something we’ve tried to achieve for years with books, with film and games, 3-D Imax films, theme park rides – an immersive experience in another world.

And yet, there was a niggling in the back of my head – a scene from the novel Fahrenheit 451.

I first read Fahrenheit 451 nine years ago this month (which is SUCH a strange thought). I was away from home for the first time at a choral studies camp in middle-of-nowhere upstate New York, and it was required reading for school, which I figured I would get through while I was waiting for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows to be released.

The 1950s novel of a “near future” America where books are burned drew me in. I loved his wonderful and thoughtful language, the clear love of books spilled onto the page, the growth of rogue book burner Guy Montag, and the soul, wit, and heart of Clarisse McClellan.

What also stayed with me were the negative images, the worries and warnings science fiction often meditates on, especially in modern dystopias. The world of Fahreheit 451 is a lot closer to home than The Hunger Games or The Maze Runner, however, in that the society is quite recognizable. Robotic hounds, wall-sized TV screens, a tiny radio you can put in your ear – much of this tech is either close to existing or already there.

The scene I was thinking of, in this instance, had to do with the wall-sized television screens, called “parlor walls,” the intent being to eventually have enough money for four parlor walls, making the room an immersive TV parlor, which is what the main character’s wife, Mildred, wishes to do.

She calls the characters on her screens “family,” and even, at the top of the novel, participates in a play that comes on the “wall-to-wall circuit,” with the intent that one part is written out and Mildred can read a script and “interact” with the characters.

Are you starting to see why the concept of virtual reality made me think of this? Made me worry about this?

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