I receive a lot of mail in the form of email, private messages, direct messages, snail mail, UPS, text messages, and Native American smoke signals. I wish I could answer each message, but there are only so many hours in the day.
So I am going to answer a few questions that have been sent in by people who are kind enough to take the time and write.
Q: What do you do when you’re not writing?
A: I like Major League Baseball. Also, beer.
Q: Choose one: Barbecue or fried chicken?
A: That’s not fair.
Q: When did you start writing?
A: When I was two. My mother taught me how to write my name. I drew a stick-figure horsey. But hey, Rome wasn’t built in a day.
Q: Sean, do you get some kind of satisfaction by putting yourself down? I’ve read your work for two years and I’m sorry, but you’re too @&$!ing self-critical. Come on man, grow a pair and quit criticizing yourself!
A: Thank you for your criticism.
Q: Would it be possible to ever meet your dogs in person? I love dogs.
A: If my dogs would ever stop running at speeds upwards of 129 miles per hour then, theoretically, yes, it would be possible to meet them. One day, I hope to meet them myself.
Q: I detect a tone of melancholy in all your writing, especially when you refer to the childhood loss of your father, you talk about that a lot, will you ever move on from this subject?
A: I sincerely hope you never lose anyone to suicide. It is hard to forget.
Q: Are you a night person or a morning person?
A: I am writing this at 11:27 P.M.
Q: Sometimes you write about how you doubt your abilities as a writer, and whenever I read this I tell my husband that I want to shake that boy by the shoulders and say, “Quit saying that!”
A: Shaking writers is not a good idea. Shaken writer syndrome usually occurs when a parent or caregiver severely shakes a writer in frustration or anger, often because the writer will not stop using comma faults. Permanent brain damage or death may result.
Q: You are an Alabama fan! BOO! I hate the University of Alabama, why can’t you root for Auburn University? War Eagle!
A: My middle name is Paul. As in: University of Alabama’s Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant. I was born during the third quarter of Coach Bryant’s farewell Liberty Bowl, when Illinois kicked a field goal. I am lucky my first name isn’t Namath.
Q: How can I get you to come to my hometown in South Carolina? We like you here. At least three more ladies in my nursing home read you every day.
A: If you can get the nursing home staff to throw a barbecue, I will make the drive, ma’am.
A: Does a one-legged duck swim in circles?
Q: I keep reading that you don’t think of yourself as a true writer. Come on, Sean. Really?
A: I believe in being honest about my feelings of low self-confidence. Consider this: A few years ago, I was laying floors for low pay. Fast-forward to today: A stranger just asked me to visit a state-of-the-art retirement facility in South Carolina. How would you feel if that happened to you?
Q: I’d feel like the freaking man.
A: That must be nice.
Q: So why can’t you feel like that?
A: Because I’m not you. And I’m not good at pretending to be someone I’m not. Self-doubt is a human emotion and I feel it often. Certainly, I understand that admitting a lack of confidence is un-American. Maybe this is why we often teach our kids to bury these feelings of and take up Taekwondo instead.
Q: Hey, I study Taekwondo and I’m a black belt.
A: I take it all back.
Q: I read that you travel a lot. Does your wife travel with you?
A: Actually, I travel with her. She is the driver of our white van—which looks exactly like a LabCorp vehicle. Whenever we arrive somewhere, most people think we’re showing up to collect urine samples.
Q: How often do you travel?
A: We spend much of our year on the road. I sit in the passenger seat, writing little ditties. My wife drives. And in the evenings, I usually make speeches in various swanky places. Tomorrow evening, I’ll be making a speech in Craters of the Moon, Alabama, for a quilting club.
Q: When are you coming to Chicago?
A: When they quit having winter.
Q: Where in Alabama do you live?
A: I don’t. I live in the Florida Panhandle, forty miles from the Alabama border.
Q: Wait, why did I think you were in Alabama?
A: Maybe because Alabama is where I’ve spent a lot of time. It’s where I met my wife, and where I have family. Or it could be because in my area, nobody is sure if we’re Alabamians with Florida drivers licenses, or Floridians who talk like Alabamians.
Q: Do you really eat all that barbecue you write about?
Q: How are you not five hundred pounds?
A: These things take time.
Q: Sean, I’ve lost my way, I just dropped out of college and have completely lost myself. I wonder why the &$@! I’m alive and what the point is. I just wish you and me could just hang out and have a beer sometime because I feel alone, I think we could be friends if we met.
A: Let’s go to South Carolina, kid.
I’ve got a date at a nursing home.