Get to know: Elizabeth Burns (and this blog)
Could I have interviewed Elizabeth without delving into her motivations for running this blog? Maybe, but The Salvage is her baby. We're all here because it takes a village to raise a child (or to write posts that affirm or critique the spaces and mindsets in which we live, whatever). Our next Very Interesting Person is indeed a VIP! I enjoyed reading Elizabeth's thoughtful answers: it's reassuring to know that there's a special universality when it comes to being uncomfortable about posting rocky family shit, plus it's cool to learn that running a blog differs radically from running a reading series. Bonus blog reading recs at the end!
What creative things do you do? Which don’t you do?
I write, first and foremost…or, think about writing, at least. I project manage – you absolutely must be creative in that realm. I also do musical things, mostly in the comfort of my own home. I don’t read/perform my poetry. I paint, but I wouldn’t call myself a painter.
What is your blogging history? (No links to old LiveJournals are required. Side note: that platform is now privy to homophobic Russian decency laws, as its new owners are based in that country. Bummer.)
Of course, LiveJournal. I tried Blogspot (Blogger?), quickly learning I am not a lifestyle blogger. I tend to be very, very personal in my writing/blogging, so The Salvage is like a diary. I have very intimate experience with the issues/realities I write about. It’s hard to write about borderline personality disorder and abuse empirically (or subjectively?); there are other places you can find that. Plus, if I wanted to talk about the severed head here, I could and it wouldn’t matter if someone “got it” or not.
The Salvage’s introductory post alludes to 2016 being a tire fire (not wrong) and expresses hope and a certain essential indefatigability for 2017. Has this year been better to you in creative terms? In other terms, personal or otherwise? Was there a specific political or cultural misstep in 2016 (take yer pick) to which this blog is a particular response?
2016 was, for me, not all that bad. It was several minuscule things that rolled into bigger things. It was boring, it was tedious, it was a lot of me shedding the "I should do this because it's the right thing to do" mentality that I've grappled with only out of guilt. This year has been a lot more "no, I'm not doing that" and not feeling like I must lie about the reasons why I don't want to or can't.
This blog is like the kind of response I've had to everything - do it your(my)self. I needed a specific kind of outlet and I never submit my work to other blogs. Creatively, yes this year has been better, but not because I’ve been creating more. It’s because I’ve been creating smarter. I don’t feel inclined to pump out any work, I don’t feel like I need to prove anything (to myself or otherwise). I’ve been thinking more about my poetics than my poetry. I don't want to exert my energy unless it's useful or makes me happy. I can't waste my time because I'm doing things I want to do – they deserve my attention.
Personally, this year is banging.
Which of your Salvage posts do you feel are particularly cathartic or revelatory? Are there any posts that you were reluctant to publish for one reason or another?
The one about my mom. I still feel like she's somehow always spying on my life, telling my dad every little thing. I can put personal shit out there if I don't feel like my blood family is reading it. There are some I have waiting to be posted that are more about my disorders that are always, always shitty when I think of them being read by others.
Is running a blog at all like running or co-hosting a literary reading series? Why or why not?
Definitely nothing alike. There's no risk of shitlords showing up here physically. Also, after a while, you start feeling competitive - I see shit like "WE are the ONLY thing in Toronto that deals with these issues SPECIFICALLY" and I'm like, "...but have you heard of outrageous?" Of course you haven't. It's not 2014.
The blog is way more low-key in the sense that it just exists and no one is asking for more. I like that. I also like that I'm not doing something physically in public.
Do you read any blogs that you think deserve a shoutout here, whether for being influential or critical or anything else?
The Establishment. Boing Boing makes me happy on occasion. I generally do blogs for entertainment though - and the culture. I read complex and rolling stone. Manrepeller was so big for me in 2007 because I was like, "I'll never get a boyfriend because of how I look" so I could relate, and now I'm like, "I don't want to have men anywhere near me, especially if they comment on how I look."
Dezeen is the best for architecture and design. I’m obsessed. If Harry Styles had a blog, I would read it.