Paul Wilborn is considered one of the biggest movers and shakers in Tampa Bay's creative arts scene. Wilborn's career started in Tampa, as a writer for the Tampa Tribune, but has returned to the St. Pete side of the bridge continuously over the last 30 years. After a stint in Los Angeles working for AP, Paul and his wife Eugenie moved back to St. Pete, where they are now major driving forces (and performers) in the arts community. Wilborn now runs the Palladium Theatre of St. Petersburg College, where he brings an eclectic mix of performing arts to the community. Wilborn's work at the Palladium allows him the opportunity to work on creative side projects simultaneously. He is currently working on two full length novels, which he will be adapting from plays he wrote.
Years in St. Pete
Organizations involved in
Radio Theater project at Studio 620, American Stage, Keep St. Pete Lit.
What gets you out of bed every day?
Aside from my wife’s coffee, which is really good, I’m excited about living in this place, I’m excited about the job that I have, and I’m excited about the projects I’m working on. So, it’s pretty easy to get up.
Why St. Pete?
I was born in Tampa, St. Pete has for some reason been calling to me over the years. In college, I worked for the St. Pete times as a correspondent, I was a journalist in those days. Then in 1992, I was one of the guys the Times hired from the Tampa Tribune when they wanted to move into Tampa. Had a great 9 year run with them, but I was based in Tampa. I came to St. Pete for things, and St. Pete in the early ’90s was still considered the little sleepy place across the bridge, and Tampa was where it was all supposed to happen. While Tampa was not looking, St. Pete kinda ate its lunch in terms of creativity and excitement and things like that. So now I came back to run the Palladium after living in Los Angeles and Berlin.
What is one habit that you keep?
Practice your piano. Anything that you want to do well, you’ve got a spend a little time with it every day. If I’m practicing the piano it means I’m doing everything else right too and I’m in a good zone. If I find myself not sitting at the piano for 30-45 minutes a day then something’s wrong with other things in my life too.
Who are some people that influence you?
My biggest influence was Bud Lee. Bud was a photographer for Life and Esquire and a lot of the big magazines in the late ’60s and actually had a nervous background and moved to Tampa to sort of chill. He moved to Ybor City in the late ’70s and ignited the creative arts scene in Ybor City. He was an artist 24/7. He woke up as an artist, he was a great photographer. He sold his stuff to Rolling Stone and national magazines. But he also made art on the side and created all of these events and he just inspired us to be creative all the time.
What is one piece of insight - a book, methodology, practice - that you would share with our readers?
If you care about something, you’ll put time into it. It sounds like an old trope but it’s really true. When I love something and I really go into it, great things happen. If I just say I want to do something but don’t give it my time and attention, then its just a pipe dream. That’s how I finished a book, that’s how I learned to play the piano.
What is one thing you wish you knew about your work 3 years ago?
I really wish I knew how my business would have exploded even more. Three years ago, we thought we were doing great, now we’re off the charts and we probably could have planned for that. But in business I think you just sort of live day by day and try to figure out your best thing based on what’s happening and where you think it’s going.
I finished a collection of short stories, when the newspaper industry went away I kind of stopped writing, I did screen plays and wrote some short plays but now I’m in a position where I’m able to create a little time. So I finished the collection of short stories and I’m about to start up on two novels which are actually screen plays I’ve written that I’m going to convert into full length novels.