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Columbia author turns chaos into prose

Thursday, November 1, 2007 | 8:45 p.m. CDT; updated 10:25 a.m. CDT, Friday, July 18, 2008
Monica Stoneking with her dog, Kaeli, one of the subjects of her recent book, "Diary of an unemployed workaholic: Lessons learned from chaos." Stoneking says she wrote this humorous book to reflect and share her everyday life experiences, including her house burning down and a pit bull attacking her dog. "What are you going to do if you can't laugh at things?" she said.

COLUMBIA — In just one month, Monica Stoneking’s house burned down, her dog was attacked by a pit bull and her car mysteriously died while driving on the highway with her husband.

“My husband and I are probably the luckiest and unluckiest people in the whole world,” she said with a laugh.

But she wouldn’t change a thing about it.

After keeping a diary during those chaotic times from April 2004 to August 2005, Stoneking can now call herself an author. Her first book, “Diary of an Unemployed Workaholic: Lessons Learned from the Chaos,” was published this year on Lulu.com, a self-publishing company that allows users to post their stories and have them printed each time someone wants to purchase one.

Stoneking, 33, said she has always had a passion for writing, describing her style as conversational. She previously wrote a column for the Missourian and has written several poems and songs for loved ones.

While unemployed, Stoneking ran a media relations consulting company. Stoneking has worked as a promotions manager at KOMU for the past two and a half years.

Inspiration for the book came from a number of unfortunate events, but started when Stoneking quit a job she had liked because she couldn’t get a raise.

While struggling to find a new job, she said she was told she was underqualified for some and overqualified for others. Stoneking was unemployed for about five months in early 2005.

“I dealt with it by venting on paper, and venting about it made it funny,” she said.

Stoneking said her favorite entry in her book is the one about her dog being attacked by a pit bull. She said the experience taught her how much her dog meant to her.

“I will never, ever, ever forget being in that moment and all the wounds all over, and feeling completely hopeless in a situation like that,” she said. “It really humbles you.”

Stoneking’s husband, Rick, said he thought the dog attack was probably the most influential inthe book because it taught his wife not to take each day for granted.

During Stoneking’s period of unemployment, she started to participate in Columbia’s Big Brothers Big Sisters program. This past May, she began teaching Irish step dancing to young girls who normally wouldn’t be able to afford such classes.

Mary Sloan, community relations director for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Missouri, said that Stoneking is a very active volunteer. “The real winner is her little sister since she is so great to her,” Sloan said.

Stoneking advises other unemployed workaholics to get involved with volunteer organizations to keep busy and get to out of the house at least once a day, all while still relaxing.

Rick Stoneking recalled coming home from work when his wife was writing and listening to excerpts from her work.

“It really lifted her spirits,” he said.

Stoneking said that before, she was always the type of person who needed approval from others. After completing her book and looking back, though, she’s realized that she no longer needs to constantly stress about proving herself.

Stoneking’s husband said he has noticed a change in Stoneking. “She’s figured out that life is too short to take it too seriously,” he said. “You have to take your situation, look at it, learn a lesson and move on.”


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