Sam Pink is a blunt, inimitable writer with little to no tolerance for any form of bullshit. His work, whether in prose, poetry, or play format, has been celebrated in the online and indie writing communities. Pink’s work captures the sense of modern urban malaise more accurately and with more stylistic flair than most any other current author. But above all else, he’s someone who makes anyone who reads him re-think the little things. He forces you to examine the small parts that build up your life. In this interview I ask him some pretentious questions on art, writing, and his place in the world. He responds accordingly. Pink currently lives in Florida. His next two books, The Garbage Times and White Ibis, are slated for release by Soft Skull Press in May 2018.
First off, introduce yourself and your work to someone who has never read your writing.
I would say, “Hey, what’s up. I’m a writer. I write romance novels and romance poetry. You’ll probably either really like it, or be mad it exists. Either way, I’d still kill for you.”
You’ve written novels, short story collections, plays, poetry, and sometimes you'll combine more than one style in one book. How do your first drafts take shape? Do you set out to write a novel, or a play, or a poem, or does the story itself shape how it will be told?
I don’t have any creative control. The books write themselves. I’m just the stooge. The fall-guy.
You’ve made it clear through your books and online presence that you’re a working artist - how do your day jobs inform your process?
The artist is the filter or grinder, and everything else gets pushed through it.
As well as being a writer you're a visual artist, but your work in that field sometimes feels like the opposite of your written work. Does one form of art inform the other? Do you see yourself gravitating towards one or another at different times?
Everything informs everything, you just have to tune in and try to learn. Yeah, sometimes I just want to draw, and other times writing really bligs my snitzers.
You have an uncanny ability to tap into base emotions without any bullshit “writerly” techniques. When you read, do you tend to seek out other writers who cut the flowery language, or do you find value in the long-winded approach?
Most of one's approach towards writing is decided long in advance by how they choose to live and think. The process of writing extends from that, no matter who you are or what you're writing.
Speaking of other writers, you recently had a cameo in Scott McClanahan’s “The Sarah Book”. You both are often kind of fucked over when it comes to genre labels - do you think there’s any point to trying to define the kind of work you do?
Hell yeah, Scott's awesome. I love that guy. Fuck genres man. You don't call Scott's writing “neo-southern emo memoir” or something, you say, “motherfucking Scott McClanahan shit.” Predate the label.
As a person who has interacted with the so-called indie-lit world for years, what do you make of the DIY scene today, deep in the internet age?
I think we're about to enter another really good time for online/indie/what have you, type of writing. I can feel it. It is, and always has been, a force of tension. The more tension you have, the better the artists to emerge. Greater tests, greater wagers. Big bad wounds and better healing. I also think the increasingly more boring and sterile limitations society keeps pushing on people is going to tease out the real motherfuckers. The wolf smiling in the woods listening to its crier if you will.
You’re on a reading tour in the Florida area right now - do you enjoy reading your work? How do tours impact your writing?
I really enjoy reading my work and getting out. Tours impact writing in many ways. It helps you understand your own work better. It puts you in touch with sometimes otherwise hard to find people, and I think it really reminds you of why you do shit like that. It always makes me feel like I need to do way more and be better overall, in a way that feels positive and not self-loathing.
Interview by Tom Ronningen