Raising Questions

I get a lot of mail in the form of letters, texts, emails, and subpoenas. Many of these messages are questions, which I am not always able to answer. So I’ve answered some here by compiling the most commonly asked questions. Let’s get started.

Q: Do you receive hate mail?

A: This is the Age of the Internet. Everyone gets critical mail. I get it all the time.

Q: Really? What do these people say?

A: I don’t want to talk about it.

Q: Did someone once Tweet about how you were a stupid hick with a head that was “unnaturally big for his body”?

A: Maybe.

Q: How did that make you feel?

A: I measured my head in the bathroom mirror.

Q: So I thought you lived in Alabama, and then I read that you lived in Florida. Which state is it?

A: I live in the Florida Panhandle, which is a unique region we natives lovingly refer to as L.A. “Lower Alabama.” My house is a few minutes from an Alabama town called Florala, if that tells you anything.

Simply put, every truck in my neighborhood has either an Auburn-University bumper sticker or a University-of-Alabama tag. Also, I actually own a pair of camouflage underpants.

Q: Really?

A: They were a birthday gift.

Q: So which team do you root for, Alabama or Auburn?

A: I may or may not have a tattoo of Nick Saban beneath my camo skivvies.

Q: You have frequently written that you don’t like calling yourself a writer. Why?

A: Being a writer in America is one of those occupational categories nobody understands.

You know how when you’re a kid and your teacher asks what you want to be when you grow up? If you were gutsy enough to tell this teacher you wanted to be a writer, chances are she stared at you as though you had said, “I want to be an astronaut.”

Let’s say you’re at a dinner party, for example, and someone says, “I work at H&R Block.” Everyone will nod at that person and smile. But if you tell these people, “Hey, I’m an author,” they will hand you their dirty plates and ask for refills.

Q: How old are you?

A: Aren’t you going to buy me dinner first?

Q: I am a man/woman/vegetable/mineral who wants to become a writer. What can I do?

A: Cancel your internet plan.

Q: Huh? Why?

A: The internet is a major distraction to writers. You will constantly be tempted to Google things while you’re writing. You will be so distracted that you’ll be lucky to finish typing one simple paragra

Q: Did someone once copy and paste one of your columns onto their Facebook wall without giving you any credit, and it went crazy viral, and yet this person who plagiarized your work accepted full credit for it?

A: Yes.

Q: How did that feel?

A: Here’s the thing. The columns I write are supposed to be—hopefully—uplifting. This is my only goal. I don’t write because I’m looking for my fifteen minutes.

If someone reads my feeble words and finds value, peace, comfort, humor, or a shred of hope, mission accomplished. I don’t need my name attached. It’s not about me.

Case in point: Do you give credit to the author of “You Are My Sunshine” before you sing it to your toddler? Do you pay royalties to George Gershwin every time you sing “Happy Birthday?” Fame is highly overrated.

Q: You write a lot about death, why is that?

A: Once you go through it, you won’t ask that question anymore.

Q: Who is your favorite author?

A: Gary Larson.

Q: Favorite movie?

A: “The Ghost and Mister Chicken.”

Q: Wait. You mean the 1966 film starring Don Knotts and Joan Staley? The movie that Don’s best friend, Andy Griffith, helped write the screenplay for but was uncredited because Andy didn’t care about attention, he only wanted to write a really good movie script for his best pal?

A: That’s the movie.

Q: I struggle with anxiety/depression. Sometimes I’m not sure I’ll make it through it. Do you have any advice for me?

A: Distract yourself. I have a friend named Lynn who has endured a veritable hell on earth. I would tell you Lynn’s story, but it’s not mine to tell. Lynn is, quite literally, the most exceptional person I have ever met. I once asked him how he gets through his darkest days. He said, “I distract myself.”

I don’t mean to make it sound so easy. It’s not. I’ve wrestled with anxiety and depression my entire life, and probably always will. But the one thing I’ve learned is that trying to “think your way out” of being anxious or depressed is the worst thing you can do. Force yourself to laugh. Even if you have to hire someone to tickle your armpits.

Q: I have cancer/auto-immune disorder/a bad disease, or someone I know is dying/ill/suffering. Pray for me.

A: Every single prayer request that comes into my inbox—and I mean every SINGLE request—I write onto a list. I read through this list every night and I actually pray for the people upon it. This takes a long time.

My prayers aren’t much, but I believe prayer works. It doesn’t always work the way I think it will, but it works nonetheless.

Q: How in the [bleep] do you know prayer works? I don’t believe in prayer.

A: Someday, when it’s your turn to suffer—and your turn will come—you will find out that prayer is all you have. And in fact, prayer is all you’ve ever had, you just didn’t know it. This will change you as a human being.

Q: Are you a religious person?

A: Not hardly.

Q: Then what would you say you believe, spiritually?

A: Charles Schulz, Fred Rogers, and Jerry Clower.

Q: What’s one thing about yourself that few people know?

A: My head circumference is 58 centimeters, which according to recent studies, is the most common size for a human male head.


  1. NancyB. - January 8, 2022 7:14 am

    Sean–First–I enjoy the way you can really answer deep, thought provoking questions without getting all “preachy.” Second–I taught career units in several classes during my 31 yrs of teaching high school business. The only time I ever activrly encouraged a student to think about reporting on a different future career was when a young man, a 5’6″sophomore, was determined, and I do mean DETERMINED, he was going to be a professional basketball player as soon as he graduated from high school. He bern vut ftom teams since 7th grade. He wasn’t going to college as it was a “waste of time.” Straight to the big timebwas his career path. This was the only time I openly encouraged a student to choose a Plan B because his Plan A was completely unrealistic. I’m not sure how it came about, but he is now a successful high school basketball coach and PE teacher. I’m sorry your teachers didn’t encourage you as a writer. It was his/her loss not to recognize your hidden talent. Third–thank you for always touching my feelings. Whether good, bad, happy, sad, contemplative, or energetic, you always touch some part of my heart. Thank you!

  2. Donna - January 8, 2022 10:47 am

    You are so bleeping funny. I look forward to your articles everyday. Thank you for bringing a smile to my face and happiness to my heart.

  3. BEX - January 8, 2022 11:14 am

    Sean, you ARE a writer. Your stories show real life as it is…mean, cruel, dirty and petty. But you also show the real people in the world that are kind, loving, caring and friendly. Real people that go through hell and still keep on going. They don’t give up because they believe in a Higher Power, Angels watching over them and that kindness and respect are valuable. And you tell their stories so the rest of us can learn and have hope. God bless!

  4. Beverly Wynn Bua - January 8, 2022 11:47 am

    Love reading your stories about everyday people & the world around us…. & your sharing of personal thoughts & events…and your heart…
    PS I don’t believe George Gershwin wrote lyrics & music to Happy Birthday…..

  5. Joy Jacobs - January 8, 2022 12:45 pm

    I love copying your columns and sharing them. For example your accordion column to my friend who plays accordion. Pretty sure I give you credit. 🥸

  6. Greyn - January 8, 2022 1:00 pm

    First off, congratulations on your common sized male head, though it strikes me as encompassing uncommon sized capacities in ways that most matter. Hope that right about now your concealed CNS tattoo is glowing and tingling faintly, a harbinger of the good things to come.

  7. MR Russell - January 8, 2022 1:15 pm

    Mission accomplished. Never stop writing!

  8. kristi - January 8, 2022 1:28 pm

    THANK you for today’s column —And I love a person who remembers Jerry Clower

  9. Paul McCutchen - January 8, 2022 2:17 pm

    I once had a teacher that said “If people are asking questions and talking to you they are genuinely interested in you or what you are discussing. ” She also said some people just ask a bunch of questions to “suck up” to the teacher. She was a complicated instructor.

  10. Jeanne - January 8, 2022 2:17 pm

    I love your column. Today is one of the darkest days we’ve had in this family for a very long time and it did me a Lotta good to read what you had to say

  11. Debbie Schmidt - January 8, 2022 2:21 pm

    You achieved your goal. Congratulations!

  12. Nick - January 8, 2022 2:37 pm

    Dump Google!! The enemy of The People!,, DuckDucGo works great!! No distractions.
    The older we get, the more we realize that ALL of life is a gift from a LovIng Creatoron whom we depend for our very next breath. Prayer is how we communicate with Him!

  13. Nick - January 8, 2022 2:38 pm

    Creater! Darn spell-check

  14. suzi - January 8, 2022 2:50 pm

    By gosh, I like you even more now!!!

  15. Tammy S. - January 8, 2022 3:01 pm


  16. Lavenda - January 8, 2022 3:07 pm

    You are funny..thank you

  17. Jan - January 8, 2022 3:09 pm

    Very interesting! Thanks for sharing.

  18. Elizabeth - January 8, 2022 3:54 pm

    “The Ghost and Mister Chicken” is in my top five favorite movies list! And “Blackbeard’s Ghost” can always make me laugh, too.

  19. Bobby - January 8, 2022 3:58 pm

    My daily read never disappoints. You know where I stand my friend. With a slight edit to a quote from our mutual literary hero Lewis Grizzard…
    I am Bama born (actually LSU for first few months), Bama bred, and when I die I’ll be Bama dead. Roll Tide!

  20. Bill Strawn - January 8, 2022 4:26 pm

    Once again, you started my morning off beautifully. So, next time, I’ll trade aces with you at the party, and take your dirty dishes.

  21. Lisa Perkins - January 8, 2022 5:09 pm

    Your advice (trying to “think your way out” of being anxious or depressed is the worst thing you can do. Force yourself to laugh. Even if you have to hire someone to tickle your armpits) is probably the best advice I’ve ever heard about depression or anxiety. You always have the perfect words Sean!

  22. Susie Flick - January 8, 2022 6:11 pm

    Look forward to starting my day with your profound written word. I start with “Mornings with Jesus” and then your daily wisdom. Just finished reading “the Incredible Winston Browne”. – wish I had met him in “real life”!

    p.s. Since I live up in the f.a.c. north, had to look up Jerry Clower – will check further to hear his comedic stories

  23. Vickie Smith - January 8, 2022 7:11 pm

    Sean, I read something decades ago and it has stuck with me all this time: Merv Griffin hired Vanna White for Wheel of Fortune in part because she has a big head! Apparently people with big heads have great star quality. (OK, I started second guessing myself about the Vanna White/big head thing, so I searched it and a lot of links came up, if you’re curious.) Big heads are apparently a good thing. Here is one of the links FYI: https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/lifestyle/1991/07/26/out-of-all-proportion/d4d5feb6-8b62-4fff-9dc7-355f416bf691/ ) Love your columns, btw!

  24. Linda Moon - January 8, 2022 8:05 pm

    “I don’t want to talk about it”. My youngest granddaughter says that a lot. We are a lot alike, she and I. Your columns lift me up, sometimes especially the ones about death because we all do, you know – die or love someone who already has. Like Mr. Larson, I look at LIFE from the far side, and that side can take me to wonderful places. “Find Your Noble Distraction” is a mantra that I journey with, too. You, Writer, are both noble and wonderful. I just wanted you to know that. And I think we’re a lot alike, you and I.

  25. MAM - January 8, 2022 8:10 pm

    My mom had a large head, and my dad had a small head. I inherited the small head, but other than trying to buy hats, it has never bothered me. That’s because what my dad had in his head was a very intelligent brain. He taught me a LOT. Sean, I am so pleased you are a writer, because all of us readers benefit from your skills every day. Thanks!

  26. Abbe Laboda - January 8, 2022 9:31 pm

    I love this article, laughing and chuckling through it. Thank you for that Sean. It’s my birthday gift from you, and you did t even know it.

  27. Chasity Davis Ritter - January 9, 2022 1:03 am

    I’ve never gone viral but I do credit you each time I share your blogs which is a lot of the time. And I also believe in prayer. Whenever something happens and people say they pray for me or I for them or anyone else and they say well it’s the least I can do I always think it’s the most you can do for someone. God hears and He does answer but like you said it’s not always in the way we would understand. I will always be glad you became a writer.

  28. Sean of the South: Raising Questions | The Trussville Tribune - January 9, 2022 1:49 am

    […] By Sean Dietrich, Sean of the South […]

  29. stephenpe - January 10, 2022 2:11 pm

    : Someday, when it’s your turn to suffer—and your turn will come—you will find out that prayer is all you have. And in fact, prayer is all you’ve ever had, you just didn’t know it. This will change you as a human being.

    Q: Are you a religious person?

    A: Not hardly.

    Q: Then what would you say you believe, spiritually?

    A: Charles Schulz, Fred Rogers, and Jerry Clower.

    This is me. ^

  30. Lisa Kay Riley - January 12, 2022 3:37 am

    The Ghost and Mr. Chicken. It’s got to be one of my favorites too. Amazon Prime, here I come!

  31. CHARALEEN WRIGHT - January 12, 2022 4:06 pm


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