The answer turns out to be almost infinite

Word count: 296 words

Reading time: Just over 1 minute

This is my weekly installment of “writing about writing,” in which I scan the world to find websites, books and articles to help writers. Today’s comes from Jim Sollisch.

When my mother died in 2005,  I helped clean out her apartment. To my surprise, I discovered in her files my own birth notice — a crinkly and browning clipping from the local newspaper. I was astonished that she’d saved it — my mother wasn’t terribly sentimental.

Perhaps because I’d shared the experience of packing up a late mother’s apartment, I was particularly interested to read Jim Sollisch’s recent piece, on the same subject, in the Opinionator section of the New York Times online. But his “find” was much more astonishing than a birth notice: it was a stack of thank-you letters he’d written to his mother’s friends. “That was surprising,” he said, in what I viewed as remarkable understatement. How on earth did she come to collect her son’s thank-you letters?

The story is intriguing, but here, I think, is the paragraph that impressed me the most:

Writing, like building furniture or making jewelry, is “Groundhog Day.” How many ways can you write a headline that says, “Here’s a dollar off coupon”? The answer turns out to be almost infinite.

Have you seen the movie Groundhog Day? The main character, played by Bill Murray, finds himself in a time loop, repeating the same day over and over again. Yes, sometimes writing feels like that.

So does packing up after a late mother. I liked the way Sollisch — who is a a creative director at Marcus Thomas Advertising was able to trace his interest in writing to the way in which his mother had praised him as a child. A moving story. Read it! 

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