In this blog post series, we’ll feature contributing authors from our new anthology, Alcott’s Imaginary Heroes: The Little Women Legacy. Today we’ll catch up with Lauren Cutrone, writer, publishing professional, and Jersey girl.
Lauren Cutrone reads Little Women in New Jersey.
What is your favorite scene from Little Women?
There is a very tiny, seemingly insignificant scene that always comes to me first. In Good Wives, there is a scene where Jo is stuck. She’s in Concord but finds that it’s no longer serving her. She wants to leave, but she has no idea where to go. This leads to Marmee helping Jo to make her way to New York City, but this scene of rare stillness for Jo always sticks out to me. This is such a pivotal moment where Jo decides who she is and who she wants to be. Whenever I feel “stuck,” I remember that even the unstoppable Jo March had a moment of stillness.
If the March sisters were employed where you work, what would their jobs be?
I work in a publishing company! Jo would naturally be an editor or a contributing writer. Amy would be working in cover design. I work in marketing myself—I think Beth would be a great marketer. Marketing is all about being a cheerleader for your brand and Beth is the best cheerleader for her sisters. Meg, as the oldest, would be a great consultant for our educational textbooks.
Who are some of your other “imaginary heroes” from literature?
I celebrated when I discovered Bathsheba Everdeen from Thomas Hardy’s Far from the Madding Crowd. She is flawed (aren’t we all?) but how progressive is it that Hardy imagined a woman running a farm after the death of her uncle? Like Little Women, I reread Far from the Madding Crowd about once a year.
Amy goes to Europe, Jo goes to New York . . . where did your pivotal “coming of age” moment take place?
Post-college. I was extraordinarily successful in college and then—nothing. No internships, no interviews, no jobs, nothing. It took a lot of introspection, a lot of patience, and a lot of self-love to realize that my worth is not based on how employable I am. I can still love myself and be useful in other ways—even if I’m not working the job of my dreams.
At various points in the book, characters like Friedrich Bhaer, Jo, Marmee, and Amy sometimes speak uncomfortable truths to other characters. Whose feedback in your life has helped you to grow?
My junior year of college, my writing professor told me behind closed doors that I had a lot of promise and he was excited to see where I was headed in my writing career. Senior year, I walked into my meeting with him a little too confidently and he said, “All of your stories are the same. What happened to that girl from last year?”
It broke my heart. I felt so proud of my ability as a writer. But he was right. I went back and reread the pieces I had submitted and not only were they all the same plot, there was nothing special about anything I had written. My mentality had very much become quantity over quality. It reminds me these days of Friedrich telling Jo that her writing could very much benefit by adding personal details, by speaking from the heart. I’ve been following that advice ever since.
Jo has both a writing space and a “scribbling suit” in the book. What does your writing space look like? What’s your favorite scribbling suit?
I was out shopping with my aunts when I found the Louisa May Alcott desk. Okay, maybe not the same desk, but the moment I saw it, I gasped. It looked so much like Louisa’s and, embarrassingly enough, I thought about that desk for a good two years. Finally, I couldn’t resist anymore and when I found it again on sale, I had to buy it. It was at that desk where I scribbled my essay for Alcott’s Imaginary Heroes: The Little Women Legacy. As for my scribbling suit, whatever’s comfortable! If I’m too busy thinking about how itchy my sweater is, there’s no way I’ll be mindful about my writing. And trust me—the readers will know.
Have you had a “perfect” (or perfect-on-paper) Laurie in your life, only to realize it wasn’t meant to be?
Honestly, I think I’m too stubbornly rational! There have been Laurie-esque boys here and there, but I think I’m content waiting for my Professor Bhaer—and too busy to really mope about it.
Tell us about the sisters, or sister figures, in your life.
I don’t have any sisters but I do have a brother. My brother is a lot like me—artistic, musical, ridiculously sarcastic. I’m lucky to have someone who gets the ‘starving artist’ thing. When I need girl time, which is often, I turn to my beautiful cousins or the friends who have known me most my life. We’re all equally as nerdy; I’m grateful to have people who don’t make fun of my passion for learning and reading but rather embrace it and celebrate it with me.
Lauren Cutrone is a writer and publishing professional located in New Jersey. She
has been a fan of Alcott’s work since she was a child and has been a member of the
Louisa May Alcott Society for five years. In her spare time, she is a reader, a blogger,
a baker, photographer, an avid tea drinker, and a dog-enthusiast. Her bookish
ramblings can be read at Hooray for YA.
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