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Joni B. Cole

Author of "Water Cooler Diaries"

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Author Joni B. Cole says that her "This Day in the Life" book series was born out of "self pity, curiosity, and a need to connect." Inspired to find out how other women coped with their lives, Cole asked participants to keep "day diaries" chronicling a single day in their hectic lives. Her most recent book -- Water Cooler Diaries: Women across America Share Their Day at Work (Da Capo Lifelong Books, 2008) -- is the third in the series, and focuses on women in their workplaces.

The founder of The Writer’s Center of White River Junction, Vermont, Cole lives in Vermont with her husband and two daughters. When she's not writing, she's teaching other people how to write, speaking at MFA and writing conferences around the country, and working as a contributing editor to several magazines. How does she deal with her daily juggle? She says it involves figuring out "what do I love to do, what's going to bring in enough money, and what I need to say no to (there's only so many hours in the day)."

Tell us a bit about your career path. How did you end up where you are?

Where is that exactly? Well, I started out in advertising as a copywriter, and also did freelance feature writing for hometown papers and things like that. I worked in advertising for 15 years or so. But I always did freelance writing. I've also been a writing teacher for 15 years -- ficton writing and creative non-fiction. That's the most prominent part of my career right now -- author and writing teacher.

What was the inspiration for the "This Day" series in general, and Water Cooler Diaries in particular?

It's a classic case of a bad day that led to a good idea, because it really was bad. Six or seven years ago, around March, my father had recently had a stroke, so my family was dealing with that, and I was traveling a lot to see my parents and be with him at the hospital. At the time, I had a 4-year-old and a 2-year-old. That day, my 2-year-old was mad at me because I wanted her to wear socks and it was snowing outside. We had been hit by a big tax bill and there were money problems... it was early afternoon and was staring out the window, still in my pjs in the early afternoon, and I just knew I was having the worst day ever and no one could possibly be having a worse day. So I got to thinking, "Well, I wonder what my friends are doing right now?" I think I was wallowing in pity a little bit. What's everyone else doing right now? I knew they were having important meetings or bonding with their children. And then I really started thinking that it would be really interesting to know what, at this moment in time, on this day, what all these other people were doing right now.

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