I receive a lot of mail in the form of emails, letters, private messages, texts, Morse code, etc. It is impossible to answer all these messages, so I have compiled some of the most commonly asked questions, and will answer them here:
Q: This world is a mess, why don’t you ever address the central problems of our society? It seems irresponsible to not cultivate awareness. Why are you pretending that humanity is one great big happy family, and everything is hunky dory? This isn’t helping our country.
A: I think someone needs a nap.
Q: No, I’m serious. Don’t gloss over the question with your glib, sophomoric attempt at ill-timed humor.
A: You could use a beer, too.
Q: Hi. I just want to know: Is Sean Dietrich a real person, or just a secret team of a bunch of wannabe writers pretending to be one guy?
A: We aren’t wannabes. We’re never-weres. Big difference.
Q: Ginger or Mary Ann?
A: Lucille Ball.
Q: Come on. That’s not fair. Please comment on this age-old debate.
A: It’s not a debate. Not really. Dawn Wells, who played Mary Ann on “Gilligan’s Island,” former Miss Nevada 1960, received more fan mail than Tina Louise (Ginger) and nearly every other actor at CBS Studios combined.
Even after Wells’ heyday she still received some 5,000 fan letters per week from hormone crazed post-pubescent boys, most of whom were offering to bear her children. Not that I would know.
In a scientific poll conducted by researchers at CBS, the results found that post-boomer males voted Mary Ann over Ginger, 3-1.
Q: You write a lot about dogs, but why don’t you ever write about cats? Don’t you like cats?
A: Funny you should mention that. As I type this, I am currently on my porch surrounded by six neighborhood cats. Two are sleeping near my feet. One cat is beside me, communicating telepathically with her giant, yellow, frightening, apathetic eyes. I don’t know what she’s saying to me exactly, but I’m almost one hundred percent certain it has something to do with canned salmon.
Q: So why don’t you ever write about cats?
A: Because dogs can take a joke. Whereas if you make one tasteless remark about cats, they will puke on your favorite pillow.
Q: I am a writer, trying to establish a daily writing routine, I was wondering how often you write? Do you write every day?
A: We do. Yes.
Q: What’s your work schedule like?
A: I wake up. I go for a walk. I write until suppertime. I watch the Braves lose. I go to bed. Repeat.
Q: I, too, am trying to write a book, but I get so bogged down with completing it, worrying about the plot, that I don’t know whether it will happen.
A: Try this. Write for two hours each day. After seven days you’ll have written for 14 hours. That’s a lot of accumulated labor. Take small bites. Relax. Even the best books are made up of tiny, digestible moments and short scenes, not grandiosity.
Then, once you’ve got your first draft finished, go fetch a BIC lighter—I get good results with a BIC multipurpose flex-wand lighter—and set fire to your manuscript while shouting, “This is the worst [expletive] book in the history of Western civilization!”
Congratulations on your first book.
Q: I am a Presbyterian minister/schoolteacher/college student/book club facilitator/VFW bartender, and I would like to use one of your writings for my sermon/classroom/essay/Bible study/karaoke night/women’s mud-wrestling championship. How do I go about getting permission, making sure to give you full credit for your intellectual property because I don’t want to infringe on your copyrighted mater—
Q: Did you just slap me?
A: Yes, but only in the literary sense.
Q: But… Why?
A: Because people today are obsessed with ownership, copyrights and milking every nanoparticle of credit out of each little thing they do. It’s nauseating. This fixation on receiving credit is the equivalent of applauding for yourself after you use the toilet.
Q: Can you illustrate what you mean with an extremely long and irrelevant example?
A: Absolutely. Last week I went to a church and the lyrics to “Amazing Grace” were copyrighted.
A: Yes. The lyrics had the little copyright symbol at the bottom and everything.
Q: But wasn’t “Amazing Grace” written in 1779?
A: Yes, but the original lyrics had been slightly altered, which makes this new version “intellectual property,” which means this song is copyrighted, which means you are not allowed to sing “Amazing Grace” in public without paying fees to obtain permission, or else you will end up with the top bunk in Leavenworth.
Q: How does this answer my original question?
A: What I’m saying is that I don’t need credit for these words if you choose to share them with someone. Everything I have ever written belongs to you. This is the Internet, you own it as much as I do.
Q: But how can you say that? What if someone steals your material and gets filthy rich from YOUR words?
A: I say God bless them. I’ve been trying for years.
Q: Duke’s or Hellman’s?
A: I wouldn’t give Hellman’s to a golden retriever.
Q: I’m struggling. I am burying my spouse/parent/child this week, and I cannot go on without them. I know you have suffered loss in your life. Do you have any advice?
A: I have no advice. Because most advice is worthless. Besides, you’re getting plenty of advice from the know-it-alls in your life right now. Funerals bring out the advice-giver in everyone.
But I don’t think you don’t need advice right now. What you need is love. Physical affection. Phone calls. Face-to-face conversations. Texts from friends. Hugs from children. Kisses from family members. Someone to put their arm around you, someone to cook for you, someone who listens more than they talk. Real, messy, unflappable love.
In my short, little, unremarkable life, I have discovered what I need the most is love. I crave it. Love is the most deficient substance on this earth, and the only item you can take with you when you leave here. Which is why I hope you know I love you. Whoever you are.
Ⓒ 2022 Your Name Goes Here, all rights reserved.
Ann Thompson - April 29, 2022 6:58 am
Lander - April 29, 2022 7:30 am
Yeah, I think I know one of the people who asked one of those questions. And he didn’t even get credit for it! Appreciate your willingness to share your stuff. It’s good stuff, too.
Stephanie Ann Manczuk - April 29, 2022 7:45 am
A member of my church has lost his wife. I have trouble communicating with people especially people who have just experienced such a loss. Now I know what to do. I am very, very good at hugs. I can also invite a group of people for dinner and include him. You write great stories and you deserve credit for your work.
Jewel - April 29, 2022 8:17 am
Thank you for the love you send with every word, everyday, its needed more than we ever realize & we need it more every day. Bless you for writing to us. Sending you loves & cyberhugs from someone who needed love & encouragement today. You’re always an unexpected bright spot whenever I take the time to read & im greatly thankful for you.
Linda Rasmussen - April 29, 2022 8:44 am
Everyone in my house is sleeping. You made me laugh out loud with all your answers and I’m trying not to wake them.
Is it true? Are you writing a book? I certainly would read it. Thank you for your positive stories that at the very least always make me smile if not roar with laughter. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Nancy M - April 29, 2022 9:23 pm
Linda Rasmussen, Sean has written several books. Look on his website Sean of the South.
berniecejolene - April 29, 2022 9:59 am
Oh. I get it. We all help write your column. Love, Bee
Jana - April 29, 2022 10:43 am
Those last two paragraphs say it all.
Debbie Schmidt - April 29, 2022 10:46 am
Laughed out loud this morning. Thank you.
Here’s another question: I get overwhelmed with emails, txts, telephone voice messages, Facebook messenger and snail mail and I’m retired. How do you have time to read all of that? Do you have help? Even if you have help it would seem that you would still have to read most of the communications yourself because they serve as your muse a lot of days.
Also, I recently got a notice that I now qualify as one of your ‘Most Engaged Fans”. Is this a Facebook algorithm? I was just hoping that you and I being “engaged” meant more than that.
Ernie in River City - April 29, 2022 10:46 am
Today’s column/blog/micro-essay captures everything about why my wife and I read every issue/post/Sean-O-Gram. You are loved in return, Mr. Dietrich.
Ann - April 29, 2022 10:48 am
Ahhhhh, a wee bit more insight to Sean…very interesting 🥰
Pamela Williams - April 29, 2022 11:45 am
Love to you and Jamie today, Sean! ♥️
Pat - April 29, 2022 11:48 am
Michael and Sandra Lauer - April 29, 2022 11:52 am
Sean, that. Was truly sardonic !
Laura - April 29, 2022 11:59 am
I am waking up hideously early because I have a new baby (puppy) and read your Q&A. Not being a morning person, it sure is good to laugh at your common sense humor. Thanks for making an early morning full of puppy love bearable for a night owl retiree!
Pondcrane - April 29, 2022 12:10 pm
unremarkable, it is not!
Paul McCutchen - April 29, 2022 12:13 pm
I know you understand what you think I said but what I said isn’t exactly what I meant. Give this answer if you want to mess some people.
MR - April 29, 2022 12:15 pm
Dukes for sure! I knew you were a wise man, Sean!
Melissa Armstrong - April 29, 2022 12:27 pm
Love you, Sean.
Jan - April 29, 2022 12:47 pm
I love you Sean! You make my day every day!
Bev McEldowney - April 29, 2022 12:52 pm
I love you, as do many, many of your readers! You are not only an excellent writer, you are an insightful student of humanity. You have a good heart. God bless you!
Charlotte Virginia McCraw - April 29, 2022 1:08 pm
I adore you . . simply adore you . . with your messy, real, uncomplicated loving, empathetic, and humorous approach to people, situations, life in general. You sometimes post comments that readers have sent to you. Some are, of course, positive, as I think they should be. Some are mean . . evidencing, to me, that those people are seriously unhappy, probably with themselves, and who seem to need to inflict their unhappiness upon you. Makes me angry for them to do that to someone whom I consider a friend, even if we have never met. My heart feels happy when I see the email with your post when I open my computer each morning. You really do start my day off right!! Thank you, Sean.
Beverly Pharr - April 29, 2022 1:08 pm
I just shared your last paragraph in a FB post —I gave you credits anyway! We’ll stated Sean💕
Imelda (Mel) Bozorgmehr - April 29, 2022 1:31 pm
This is just a sample of why I save your articles til after all the world & local news & Facebook idiots. I think I have just about weeded all them out! I still say you should charge a subscription fee.
Susie - April 29, 2022 3:36 pm
Imelda, I think Sean’s above charging a fee. He gets his big payoff in our adoration of him, which is TOTALLY justified.
Olivia Lawrence - April 29, 2022 2:06 pm
I love you too, Sean.
hearthsmart - April 29, 2022 2:28 pm
Absolutely love this!!
Nancy Carnahan - April 29, 2022 2:33 pm
I’m in California. I bought some Duke’s in Alabama last year. I’m a fan. Last week, I was shopping in an AF commissary and lo and behold, they had Duke’s! I bought a 48-oz jar and a squeeze bottle. Yay!
Cathy Meintjes - April 29, 2022 2:54 pm
I LOVE reading your posts each morning! And I absolutely LOVE a good laugh every day! Your words give me hope that there are people in this crazy world who still see the value in others. Just like you, I crave love too. Thank you again for touching my heart and for the great humor!
Shelton A. - April 29, 2022 3:10 pm
Good stuff! Thanks for the laughs! We love you guys, too, Sean and Jamie (plus Otis and Thelma Lou).
Belinda McCormick - April 29, 2022 3:26 pm
Here is a big hug for you and your readers who have experienced great losses. You are loved. And I know you are a real person, I saw one of you in person:)
Susie - April 29, 2022 3:30 pm
Sorry, Debbie. He’s happily married.
Harriet White - April 29, 2022 5:05 pm
So cool! I loved this one. Congratulations to the team of writers!
Bill - April 29, 2022 6:02 pm
“Because people today are obsessed with ownership, copyrights and milking every nanoparticle of credit out of each little thing they do. It’s nauseating. This fixation on receiving credit is the equivalent of applauding for yourself after you use the toilet.”
Sean, you have said what I haven’t been able to put into words. Everyone is set on making a mark whether they have a valid point or not. They just like to hear themselves talk for the sake of making noise. I teel they’ve helped ruin the internet.
Becky+Souders - April 29, 2022 6:05 pm
Another good offering, Sean. As for the person needing both a nap and a beer, they are probably tired and cranky from splitting their infinitives. Keep up your good words!
Linda Moon - April 29, 2022 6:41 pm
I will assist you with a couple of answers that might be helpful or different from yours. “Awareness” question—my answer: Self-care is necessary before we can tend to others’ needs. “Cat” question—my answer: Cats CAN take a joke, but they don’t like tasteless remarks, do you? But most of all, I agree with you and Burt Bacharach. You know I love you, too, don’t you.
MAM - April 29, 2022 7:43 pm
I, as an editor of a tiny digital newspaper, MUST always give attribution and credit to the writer or photographer, or I’ll get sued. But I have shared your blog far and wide, because I want people to know that there ARE good people in this nutty world. You share your love, and we love you back. Thanks for every word you write, Sean!
Lee Faucette - April 29, 2022 8:11 pm
I am 86, retired teacher & high school principal, there is no true answer. I enjoy your writing & say u r wise beyond ur years. Please keep writing!
Lee Faucette. I t is refreshing.
Your friend, Chasity Davis Ritter. - April 29, 2022 10:15 pm
I share you all the time. In texts. Sometimes emails. Mostly Facebook on my page and in groups and I have read you out loud to the break room at work more than once. Thank you for allowing me to share your words and smiles and tears. Please don’t stop writing them and sharing them with me first!
Terry Ley - April 29, 2022 11:11 pm
Whew! I was afraid that the copyright police would knock on my door any day to arrest me for using several of your columns/blogs to encourage writing by the seasoned adults in my memoir writing class. I admire the way that you find topics for writing everywhere!
Kay Quinton - April 29, 2022 11:35 pm
Damn….that was beautiful….and hilarious! ❤️❤️ So enjoy seeing your email everyday! You are able to put into words what some people have in their hearts! Thank you, Sean!! Are you real???
Melinda Winchester - April 30, 2022 12:55 am
Sean, I’m Melinda, from Memphis. (Not to be confused with Melinda from Birmingham! She’s my BFF!) I met you a little over two years ago, right before Covid changed us all. It was at your book signing at Books-A-Million in Southaven, Mississippi which is close to Memphis. My friend Sharon (from Pocohontas, AR) introduced me to your writing a few months before. When I saw you would be close, I just had to see for myself if you were as authentic as I felt you would be. And you didn’t disappoint. I don’t usually go to things like that alone but I was so glad I did. Not long after, the whole world changed. I lost my job and my daughter’s college classes were cancelled and she moved back home temporarily. She was so sad that her college experience was abruptly halted but I found having her with me to be a bright spot in the whole situation! Anyway, I started telling everyone I know about you. I told the Birmingham Melinda she needed to follow you, and she did. Her father died shortly after that and I sent her a few of your books as I knew it would be comfort to her. She has now become your biggest fan and was so excited when you moved to her hometown. She refers to “Sean and Jamie” as if you are close friends! (I have to say, I’m a bit jealous!) My whole point is, you touch so many souls and unless you are the greatest actor in the world, you are the real deal. And I love that! Learning of your writing came at the exact perfect time for me. (I call those God-winks.) I am sitting here tonight feeling pretty poorly as Covid finally found me. I vaxxed and boosted and I took zinc and vitamin D every day for the last two years but that Covid is sneaky! I tested positive on Wednesday and my husband tested positive today. We are puny! And NOW, to the whole point here… you know how much I think of you and I would never hurt your feelings. But Duke’s over Hellman’s??? Say it ain’t so!
Ellouise - April 30, 2022 1:57 am
Lizabeth Nicol - April 30, 2022 2:26 am
Took your permission to share by reposting List Dog on my blog. Yes, I give credit because I’ve been trained to do so and because I don’t fancy suffering imposter syndrome. Still, I’ve read that post aloud to others twice and I still choke on the punch line because that is how God feels about each of us.
And you’re right: cats are not amused.
L Roberts - April 30, 2022 2:37 am
CHARALEEN WRIGHT - April 30, 2022 5:12 am
Ellen Read - April 30, 2022 7:56 am
Cathy - April 30, 2022 11:24 am
Love your columns, look forward to them everyday but, you missed the boat on Mayonnaise!
Sandy - April 30, 2022 7:52 pm
Sean, Loved it, loved it loved it.
Debbie Taylor - April 30, 2022 10:11 pm
This was soooo good! 😂😂😂
Ron - April 30, 2022 11:34 pm
Great column, look forward to it each day.
Cynthia P Martin - May 1, 2022 3:08 am
Y’all are amazing!!! BTW. So proud that y’all are Alabamians now…
Karen - May 1, 2022 9:13 pm
Loved this column.
Debbie Wells - May 3, 2022 5:44 pm
You are verging on “way too funny”!! The person who recommended you to me is turning 90 this Thursday. I’m 68 and she can run circles around me. She said she never laughed so hard reading a book (Will the circle be unbroken) She reads a lot more than anyone I’ve ever known. I’ve had a very rough year and and you have lightened my spirit many times with your emails. Thank you 😊
Dale Parsons - May 10, 2022 6:56 pm