• Annette Marquis

Are you a Wandering WordsWoman?

Updated: Jan 8, 2019

In 1895, when Katharine Lee Bates traveled by train from Massachusetts to Colorado, and then by wagon and mule to the summit of Pikes Peak, most considered her travel abnormal, even improper. Women just didn’t do that. It was too hard, too risky, too unladylike.

We remember her trip, though, not because of any hardship she had to overcome, or any tragedy she experienced along the way, we remember her trip because of the words she scribbled into her notebook that day.

The view from Pikes Peak, Colorado

Katharine Lee Bates has inspired countless Americans with the poem she penned atop Pikes Peak, a poem that became the song we all know as America the Beautiful.

Women are hitting the road in record numbers

Now, almost 125 years after Katharine Bates gazed upon “amber waves of grain” and “purple mountain majesties,” women have considerably more freedom to travel independently. Increasingly, women are hitting the road—alone, with partners, with families, or with trusted canine (or feline) companions.

However, we are still criticized for traveling, especially, when we go alone.“Won’t you be scared?” our friends and family ask. “How will you stay safe?” “What if your vehicle breaks down?” “Won’t you be lonely?” “What if something happens?”We can’t dismiss the real danger of violence that women face in our everyday lives—whether or not we’re on the road. The reality is, though, that we are just as capable as men of traveling on our own. When stuff gets in our way, we find a way around it, or we leap over it. If all else fails, we ask for directions!

Women have incredible resilience. We are problem-solvers, innovators, and creators.

Sisters on the Fly, a women's RVing group, in a caravan

Women are getting published like never before

Women writers are finally being recognized for the value our voices bring to the world. But we still have a long way to go before we see parity (see the 2017 VIDA Count to learn more about gender disparity in publishing). Women’s words change the conversation, open the door to new ways of thinking, and empower other women. Even if you don’t consider yourself a writer, whenever you put words together on a page or a screen, you are writing. And your voice matters!

Women are building support networks with other women to reach their goals

Freedom of movement and expression are core values of a free society. It’s up to each of us how we use these freedoms and, as we do, whether we help other women live their dreams. From the time we are born, many of us are taught to be dependent, told what we can’t do rather than what we can, and discouraged from following our dreams. Sexism and internalized oppression steal our courage and convince us we are better off playing it safe. When we resist those early messages and develop some independence, we too often think we have to do it alone.

Meeting other women who are doing what we want to do remixes those old playlists. I know that’s happened to me. Convinced that something was just too hard or I wasn’t capable of whatever it was, I’ve given up, only to meet a woman who’s doing exactly what I had decided I couldn’t do, and she’s inspired me to try again.

The solution is in surrounding ourselves with positive people, with people who bring us energy rather than deplete us, in finding a community of women who encourage us to take risks, who build us up, rather than tear us done, celebrate with us when we succeed, and pick us up when we fail.

So why Wandering WordsWomen?

My name is Annette Marquis, and I created Wandering WordsWomen because I know that women find courage from each other—to write and speak our truth, go where we want to go, live how we want to live, and leave the world better than when we found it. I believe that by supporting each other in our dreams, we can make the world safe for all women, and ultimately for all people.

I believe it is my responsibility as a free woman to use my voice and be involved with the world around me in as many ways as I can. Writing and traveling are two ways I can do that (and yes, that means my hair might not be coiffed every day!).

My personal dream is to travel, mostly by RV, sometimes alone and sometimes with my wife, to write and publish stories, ideas, and web content that matters, and have the resources—personal, financial, spiritual, and physical-- to support my dreams. If you share my dream or any part of it, I invite you to come along.

Together, we’ll flex our writing muscles, challenge each other to create our best work, support each other as we work and live on the road, and celebrate this beautiful world of ours.

I’ve always been a traveler

I’ve always been a traveler. My dad was a traveling salesman. Some of my earliest memories are riding in the back seat of his Chevy station wagon with boxes of Daisy BB guns and Heddon fishing tackle packed in behind my seat. As we crisscrossed the Rocky Mountain and south-central states, I plotted our route on a Texaco roadmap, calling out how many miles to our destination. I loved seeing what was around the next turn, over the next mountain, or in the next town we journeyed through.

So far, I’ve visited 49 states (and lived in seven of them), one US territory, five Canadian provinces, and seven other countries in North America and around Europe.

In 2016, I pulled a 13 ft Scamp trailer with my Subaru Forester, by myself, from Richmond, Virginia, to Portland, Oregon. Now, I know some of you who are pulling a 30-footer or driving a giant Class A might laugh at reading this, but when I left home, I didn’t know what I was doing with my little trailer, how to back it up, or even that I needed to downshift to get over hills—and we’re not even talking about mountains.

Leaving on my trip from Richmond, VA, to Portland, OR, with Ruth (car) & Idgie (camper)

By the time I reached Portland, I felt like a pro. I had made it across the Virginia and West Virginia hill country, through the plains, and over the Rockies. I could back up into the tightest campsite, and most importantly, I felt confident I could handle my little rig anywhere.

Doing it by myself forced me to overcome my fears, not just about pulling a trailer, but about a lot of things. By gaining confidence in one area of my life, I built it in other areas, too.

I haven’t always been a writer

Although I’d love to say that I’m one of those people who always was a writer, who has always carried a notebook and pen in her pocket and has volumes of journals and diaries that, like Katharine Bates, date back to the age of six, I can’t. The fact of the matter is I’m a reluctant writer. Don’t get me wrong, I love writing, but the truth is it scares me—maybe even more than pulling a trailer across the country did.

It doesn’t matter what you write, writing exposes the writer in a way few other things do. Doubts about whether it’s good enough, complete enough, descriptive enough, too long, or too short plague me when I write. Did I include too much about me, not enough about me? Did I use too many commas or, even worse, leave a participle dangling? So many rules! And that’s even with an MFA in Creative Writing and almost thirty books under my belt! I’m still nervous every time I click Publish on my blog or give a piece I’ve written to someone to read.

A few of the books I co-authored

I believe that writing changes lives

At the same time, I believe that writing our stories is crucial to emboldening other women to follow their dreams. When I read how a woman traveler has overcome adversity, I become more confident of my own ability to do the same. When a woman is inspired by the view at the top of Pikes Peak and writes about it, I want to go there; I want to see that view and be inspired with her—even 125 years later.

Just as reading someone else’s story makes us feel connected, writing for an audience does, too. Whether you’re writing posts for a travel blog or drafting the great American novel, what you see and do from the road and who you meet along the way fuels your writing, making it more vibrant and alive.

Stories matter. Whether we’re describing a success or a failure, other women can learn from and be encouraged by your experiences.

If you’re interested in reading more about me, you can find more of my story here.

Wandering WordsWomen brings writing, wandering women, and virtual living together

Wandering WordsWomen provides support, encouragement, information, and inspiration for any woman who wants to hop into an RV, hook up a trailer, or throw a tent into the back of her car, and take off for parts unknown, then, when she reaches a destination, to put pen to paper or fingers to a keyboard and begin another kind of journey—the writer’s journey.

Whether your goal is to become a better writer, reach an audience, get published, or run a virtual business from wherever you are, Wandering WordsWomen is here to help.

The mission of Wandering WordsWomen is to empower women writers to be able to go wherever the road takes them and support and inspire other women along the way.

I welcome your input about what you want to learn about and the successes you've had writing, publishing, risk-taking, women’s travel, and making money online.

If I don’t have the knowledge and experience to discuss a topic you’re interested in, I’ll find another woman who does.

Whether you write poetry, prose, fiction or non-fiction, whether you’re a skilled writer or a beginner, whether you’ve never published before, or are a Pulitzer-prize winning author, if you’re a woman who wanders and writes, or who longs to wander and write, you’ve found a home here at Wandering WordsWomen.

I'm looking forward to going on this adventure with you.


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