Lara Parker is an editor and writer and at BuzzFeed in Los Angeles. She first caught my attention when a friend shared a piece Lara wrote titled "Becoming the Person I Hate on Social Media". Not only was it a post I could very much relate to, but it was extremely well-written which inspired me to read more of Lara's writing. Lara writes openly and honestly about her personal and professional challenges and I immediately knew I wanted to talk to her and learn more. She shares her path to writing, how she got into her role at BuzzFeed and how she manages the information overload that comes with her territory.
Tell me about what you do?
So professionally I’m an editor at BuzzFeed and unprofessionally I have a personal blog where I write a lot about women’s health issues specifically, and more specifically endometriosis, and vulvodynia and vaginismus which kind of all go hand in hand. They all affect women and reproductive systems and cause painful sex, chronic pain and that type of thing.
I started writing about it back in 2012, I think when I was first diagnosed with endometriosis and was just going through a lot of pain and feeling really, really alone. I just felt like I needed to get it off my chest so I started writing about it and I still do to this day. That’s basically how I would sum up what I do. I also run some support groups and try and be a support leader from time to time for women who are just newly getting diagnosed.
How did you get started with writing?
The first time I realized that I liked writing was when I started a blog to share my experiences with my family when I was studying abroad in Australia. It was honestly just something that I did for fun and I thought it was kind of dumb and no one would read it but then people kept reading it and connecting with what I was writing.
I was going through a really hard time with my diagnosis which I hadn’t opened up to anyone about at the time, so writing for me was this therapeutic way of dealing with it without telling anyone that I was dealing with it. When I got back from Australia I didn’t stop writing. I was a senior in college at the time and I was going to school for public relations which I realized during my senior year that I absolutely hated, it felt too late at that point so I just graduated with it. I don’t want to say I wasted four years because with reflection now I definitely did not but at the time I was like “holy shit what am I doing?”
I just kept writing on the side because it was the one thing that I really looked forward to every day. I would plan out blog posts and look for ideas and think about how I was going to write about different things and new ways to make my blog look cool.
So I graduated and started working at a public relations firm and hated every second of it. I kept writing on the side and I read a lot of BuzzFeed and eventually applied for a job there. I got turned down at first which I was really bummed about but I kept writing and I even wrote about being turned down on my personal blog and again people kind of connected with these things, that I always felt I was alone in feeling. Which is kind of crazy if you think about because there’s so many people on this earth that you’re never really alone in this kind of thing but you can definitely feel like you are at certain points of life. The Internet and blogging always allowed me to realize that I was never alone and so I just kept writing.
How did you end up in your current role at BuzzFeed?
I started out as a travel intern at BuzzFeed actually. I had applied for the writing fellowship which is basically a four month training program that they still have and they still hire people for to this day. You go through four months of training and you learn how to write for BuzzFeed’s audience. I thought “oh this is perfect for me”, and I was sure that I had it in the bag. The interview went so well and then I got the email that I didn’t get it and I was really, really bummed out. I sat on my couch and cried for a couple of hours and then I looked at their job application site and I realized there were other positions there that I could apply for, and I definitely wasn’t going to give up that easily. I saw the travel intern listing and who doesn’t like to travel right? So I gave it a shot and I ended up getting hired for that and then 2 weeks later I was moving to Los Angeles, I sold all my furniture, I’m from Indiana originally so it was quite the move.
I’ve been at BuzzFeed ever since, I started out as a travel intern and then got hired on as a staff writer for BuzzTeam which is basically just general BuzzFeed. After about a year or so of being a staff writer I was promoted to editor and now I lead a small team there.