Monday, March 12, 2012

Writing in the Copy Room
Moms and Other Parental Figures Who Write While Making Copies at the Kids’ School

by Hilde Garcia 

8:00 am, Thursday, Franklin Elementary.
Kids dropped off and I pop into the copy room to make quick class set of copies for my next lesson. Instead I walk into a party of moms.

“SO, I need three sets of 25.”

“Can you get that report to me before the PTA meeting?” Another mom says.

“I can volunteer tomorrow at lunch if you need me.” 

I think that was aimed at me since I coordinate groom reps.

“Did you finish checking the translation I emailed you last night?” I say as I put the stack of paper on the counter.

“Copies are ready, who needs the machine?” My friend Judy bellows from behind the copy machine.

“I need coffee… anyone want to make a Starbucks coffee?  I’m buying.” That mom just became a saint.

Cash flies out of purses and backpacks faster than the copies spit out of the copy machine.  Orders are given, and the brave mom who volunteered to do a coffee run disappears. Finally, mojo in hand, we all settle into a nice work rhythm as we finish the copies, laminating, paper cutting and sorting of the endless administrative and educational duties teachers have these days.

“Hey, what’s that?”  Another mom named Maggy notices in my pile.

“Oh, those are pages I’m workin’ on for my critique group tonight.”

“Get outta here.  You’re a writer?  How cool!  Me too.”

Of all the copy joints in town, she had to walk into mine.  “No kidding.  What do you write?” 

“Picture books.  And you?”


10:00 am. It’s still Thursday.
The copies are done and the coffee is gone.  I’m not a coffee person, so I down three mini Kit Kats, two Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, and bag of M & M’s - my choice of poison.

The morning flies by with copies and conversation, writing tips and how to start your own critique group.  We discuss professional organizations like SCBWI and how to network.

What really surprises me is how many of these Writer Moms in Disguise (and Dads), I found in that copy room.

April 2011.
A cool mom named Denise and I figured out we both wrote young adult.  Our kids were already fast friends in Kinder and it seemed Denise, and I were on that same path.  We ended up attending the LA Writer’s Day. And when in line at school to pick up our kids, we also met John, a dad in our class who wrote a bilingual picture book, which will soon hit the shelves.  He joined my critique group and I at the SCBWI summer conference.

October, 2011.
I met Maggy in the copy room and we talked of how to start a critique group. We had a mutual admiration for each other as we counted out sets of 25 copies for each of the 20 classrooms at our school.

But what really surprised me was my encounter at a flag football game this past fall.  A mom said, “I know you!  You were at the LA summer conference this year. I recognized your name on the team’s roster.”  Now, there were 1300 people at that conference, so it was impressive that she remembered me.  I felt a bit famous.  The mom, Rosalind, and I then attended a Writer 2 Writer event at the Flintridge Bookstore on Poetry the very next month. 

Networking never ceases to amaze me.

January, 2012.
Clearly between the dishes and the diapers and the endless laundry and practices we take our kids to, we moms do write (and dad’s too).

It might take longer than usual to get a final draft and require several printings to ensure that there aren’t food traces on the draft paper, but we eventually do it and submit it and get published.  I think in today’s world of under supported education where parents have to fundraise, make copies, and volunteer like paid professionals in their kids’ school, it’s a miracle parents get any writing done at all. 

When my kids were infants, I longed for the day they would go to school so I could have “me time”.  Well, it turned into “I need to do this for them time.”  “Me time” is whenever and however I can get it.

My friends in the copy room reaffirmed my desire to write, gave me positive encouragement that I can do it, and often took the stack of copies off of my hands so I could go and hide in the book room to write.

I return the favor, or at least provide endless coffee and chocolate and my experience as a writer mom.

Today, 2012.
I walk into the copy room like any other usual Thursday morning and the same old crew is there, working busily at smashing crayons, laminating words or cutting out shapes.  I plop down my copies and we all pick up where we had left off the last time.  But today, the conversation wasn't about writing, it was about sex.

But that’s a whole other blog post!


  1. I liked this reminder that a lot of us who have families are juggling time with many balls in the air. It's not like writing gives you a steady pay check so it's hard to justify paying a babysitter when your child is home from school with a cold as mine if today. So, I take breaks and play dolls with her and then pass her my phone to play games on.
    Playing with her probably helps my writing because I am more in touch with a kid's perspective!
    I'm also trying to grade papers for the class I teach...

  2. Who knew so many of us would find camraderie in the copyroom? Yes indeed. Another great post Hilde! Thanks for sharing.

  3. How awesome that you found each other in the copy room.

  4. I've discovered lots of writers, published and unpublished, at my kids' schools as well. One super nice cookbook author kindly gave us all an awesome recipe when we flipped over his cupcakes at a class party. :)

  5. I am constantly surprised by how small the world is—and by how many people secretly want to be writers. Thanks for a great example of how one can find kindred souls anywhere!

  6. Thanks everyone. Your comments rock and now I will rock myself to sleep. LOL.Hilde

  7. You're a great writer Hilde!

  8. I loved it and I totally get it! Copyroom is where I meet my next year's teacher...Thanks Hilde -- you are a great writer. Ther

  9. Hilde-
    You never cease to amaze me. Coach / teacher / writer... I bet you have a multitude of other talents!
    Wendy (Yankee Nate #6's Mom)

  10. Enjoyable read Hilde and oh so true! Thanks for the dose of reality and onward we write!


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