Friday Feature: Interview with Sarah Burnett

Each week, the editors of Jenny Magazine sit down with either fellow literary magazine editors or past Jenny contributors for short interviews. This week’s interview is with Sarah Burnett, a past contributor of Jenny Magazine.

Describe your first publication. Where was it, when, and what was the piece about? How old were you at the time and how did it feel?

My first publication was actually “Mudpie” in the Jenny. I had written the poem in my intro poetry class what was probably a year or two before and decided to submit. The poem was about working in retail because I worked at a baby store through my entire time as an undergrad. I had a lot of material to work with because of that.

What inspired your piece in the Jenny?

I wrote it because I know how the average retail worker feels in almost all situations. Book store, baby store, fabric store, fast food, call centers, I’ve worked them all. I knew it was something that a lot of people could relate to.

What got you into writing?

Well, I’ve been writing poetry since before I can really remember. I started writing stories in sixth grade, though. My English teacher gave us some assignment and we were allowed to write creatively for it. My ideas took off. I had spent so long day dreaming that it was like second nature to just write it all down.

What do you like writing the most? Is there a certain style you prefer?

I think what I like about writing the most is the release and the escape. There is something about getting the words out of my brain that is so exhilarating. I feel like if I stopped writing, my brain would eventually explode. I don’t really have a preference of what style I use. I write in whatever way fits what I’m trying to write.

What are your influences? Who are your favorite writers?

This question always trips me up. I don’t know who my biggest influences are. And I have so many favorite writers that it’s hard for me to just write them all down. Honestly, I spent most of my elementary and middle school years alternating between Shel Silverstein and books about cats. I’m sure that has had some profound effect on my writing.

What’s your proudest moment as an author?

Hands down, getting to the fiftieth poem in my thesis. The thesis is nowhere near done, currently, but I am incredibly proud that I now have more poems than I need to complete my degree.

How has your writing developed over time?

I used to write things I thought other people would like to read. Now I write whatever is most important and relative to my life. I also think in the last couple years, my style and voice have really started cementing themselves. It feels good to have a solid voice.

Are you currently working on anything?

See thesis response above. And as soon as I’m done with my thesis, I’m turning all my attention to the screenplay that I’ve neglected for six months. I feel super pretentious every time I talk about having a screenplay, so I’ll walk away from that now.

What’s your writing process?

There is no real process for me. If it’s an assignment, I sit down with the assignment and write it. If I’m writing something because I want to, it’s usually a five hour struggle, a resignation to go to sleep, and then it happens all at once as soon as I’ve snuggled up in bed. That’s my process.

What are you currently reading?

I don’t know why, but I suddenly wanted to treat this like a quiz from LiveJournal and say “this survey, duh!” Honestly, I’ve not had time to just read in the last couple months. Over winter break, I plan on reading a book. At least one. I deserve that much.

Have you ever co-written something with another author? If so, what was that experience like?

I’m not brave enough to try that. Actually, that’s a lie. But everything I ever co-wrote was done across the globe. My co-author lives in Australia, and for a few years, I couldn’t write anything worthwhile without their help. I sometimes wish I hadn’t gone back to college so that could’ve continued, but then I wouldn’t be sitting here filling this out.

Have you ever worked with a medium other than writing? Or collaborated with someone in another medium with your writing?

In the previously mentioned collaborations, we would swap writing back and forth. Sometimes, they would send over drawings of how they saw the scenes I was writing. I still have all of them saved somewhere. I also have another artist friend that has drawn for me before. I’m no good at drawing, so I’m always grateful to the friends who have been inspired enough by my writing to create something else for it.


Are you a past Jenny contributor or an editor at a literary magazine and interested in an interview? Send us an email.

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