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.
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