DC: The narrator in The Garbage Times describes “the garbage times” as “where best to just shut the fuck up and do what you had to do. Where best never to complain. And always be ready.” Would you say we’re living in the garbage times now?

SP: Always. Never ever forget it. ARFA (always ready for action). You are always the garbage-person to your own life. Let it pile up all you want, and it might get gross, or confront it and clean up. But you have to will yourself to do it. And the first step of that is saying yes to it. Especially currently, where there is more said of most issues than done about them. You’re either a garbage person, or the ones complaining about the smell. Either way, you are creating garbage, and can do or not do many things with your trash (raises eyebrows and licks ice cream cone).

DC: I originally found your work around 2012 through some part of the Internet that I’ve long since forgotten. Did online communities help foster your earlier work?

SP: Yeah for sure. The Internet was really fun and cool for a while. It was what seemed like, a rare moment of freedom opening up, and people capitalizing on it positively to put cool shit into the world and create a way to spend time, without mass marketed/corporate/brand type bullshit fucking it up. It was a real cool thing that helped me meet a lot of cool people and learn more about myself and encouraged me to make/share more. I can honestly say that before encountering the Internet, I genuinely thought, not in a cynical/rhetorical way, that I couldn’t write a book or paint a painting. But then you try and learn about yourself. I appreciate everyone from around that beginning time period, and look forward to newer people resurrecting and cherishing that mode of creating/being.

DC: You’re also a visual artist, as is the narrator in White Ibis (who is coerced into illustrating a group of Girl Scouts). How do you balance your creative projects? Do they ever feed off each other?

SP: Shout-out Girl Scouts of Florida and the world. “Leave it better than you found it,” etc. You are the gentle yet fierce cops we need, but perhaps, don’t deserve? Also nobody parties like a Girl Scout. When was the last time you were at a party (having shown up on time along with all the others), stayed completely sober, talked earnestly with all your friends, had dinner together, made some pictures together, presented your findings on a certain topic in oratorical presentation form, then watched a movie together and “camped out” in a house, all the while knowing you’d wake up excited to have breakfast with your friends, and that you were a troop together, united by the search for more patches?

Deciding which thing to work on is easy if you just listen. My mind would be saying “I don’t want to do this” after painting for a couple months, then I’d write something. And vice-versa. You just have to be honest with yourself. Sometimes, it’s not time. And yes, the different kinds of work feed off each other, although, I feel like writing has fed more off of painting than the other way around. Learning/teaching myself how to paint has helped me apply many new ideas to writing. I would encourage writers to try out other modes of expression to help their writing.

DC: Yeah, I’m often baffled by the way some people have hard and fast rules about their creative processes. I agree that sometimes, it’s not time. What do you work on when you’re not feeling creative at all?

SP: Yeah, the “I have to do at least [x words/x amount of x] per day” is something I don’t understand. I usually don’t feel creative, but I’ll just sit down, and it’ll happen. With that said, when I sit down and nothing happens or I don’t feel like doing it, I go for walks, or play with my cats, or go to the gym.

DC: I’ve noticed a lot of casually mentioned dinosaurs in your work: in Hurt Others, “I talked about dinosaurs”; in Person, “Man Found Starved. Believed Relative of a Baby Dinosaur”; in White Ibis, “Arrangements for casket attire? Dinosaur costume ALL THE WAY for me.” Can you talk more about your relationship to dinosaurs?

SP: Damn, nice catch. I didn’t even realize that. (I’m imagining you asking the “relationship to dinosaurs” question by putting a mic in my face as I exit a courtroom.) I must have dinos on the brain!!! I think my relationship to them is one of utter confusion. That they existed before us, like they had an earlier chance at earth, still ended up dying out completely. I feel a sense of camaraderie with dinosaurs. Dinosaurs are really exciting. Furthermore, our current existence is almost solely fueled by their bones. WHATTAHHAHAHAH?!>!>!>??!?!?

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