I chose to do my doctoral research on today’s smart, strong women because I felt the non-fiction books and research were very one-sided, that they depicted women as weak, non-assertive and not capable of sustaining success. Not only did I discover an identity of confident and capable women not represented in the literature, I found these women had a strange motivator in common: an underlying sense that they had not accomplished enough, that there was something more they had to do in this lifetime. This left them feeling restless and often led them to go from job to job and relationship to relationship while constantly questioning their roles as wives and mothers and sisters. In other words, they wander.
Wander women don’t want to balance their lives; they want to find peace of mind in the chaos. They don’t necessarily want to learn how to gain a seat in the boardroom; they want frequent, challenging and meaningful projects they can run with or businesses they can run on their own. The don’t seek to manage their stress; they desperately want to know who they are and what they want to accomplish in this one lifetime.
Starting from my research and then adding in work I’ve been doing as a leadership coach and trainer, the book, Wander Woman, explores how generational shifts and changing expectations of working women have fostered both the confidence and restlessness in many women. Using real-life stories I share the hopes and dreams, disappointments and challenges this group of high-achieving women are facing. Then I provide exercises and development strategies to guide the reader on their journey to finally come to rest with a strong sense of identity and purpose.
Tell us something about yourself.
I live the wander woman phenomenon. Every time I was hired by a company, I quickly worked my way up the ladder, accomplished great things for the organization, then left after five years. After the third job, I started my own business. Now I travel around the world teaching leadership strategies and speaking at conferences. Yet there is always the burning question that haunts me: is there something more I should be doing? I have two masters degrees in education and communications and a doctorate in organizational psychology. Should I get another degree? This is my third non-fiction book and I have two novels sitting on a closet shelf. Wander Woman was published a few months ago but I am already outlining my next book. As for my personal life–I have settled into a wonderful relationship after ending two marriages. I found a man who understands my drive and never asks me to stay home more often. In all my wandering, I still live in the town I was born, Phoenix, Arizona. Yet I buy and move into a new house about every three years. I never realized there were other women like me until I began my research. Now many women tell me they are finding peace in understanding their restlessness as well. I am honored to share these insights.
What inspired you to write this book?
After completing my doctoral work, I knew I needed to share what I found with other women. As fate would have it, I sat next to the woman who would become my editor at Berrett-Koehler at a coaching conference. She believed in my work and helped me to sell the idea to her editorial board. Both my passion and her faith in me inspired me to write the book.
How did you choose the title?
There is a chapter on archetypes in Wander Woman. When I was exploring the possible archetypes of today’s smart, strong women, I came upon the Wanderer. The Wanderer is driven to seek both opportunities and freedom. She accomplishes many things because of this desire but she can also lose her sense of self while constantly in motion. The archetype described the women in my research so well that I felt the name should be in the title.
What obstacles did you encounter in getting this book published? How did you overcome them?
This is the first of my books to be published. I self-published my other two books after trying to find publishers but being rejected. The experience has been amazing. My editor was tough. Many times I thought she would give up on me. Yet I kept writing, knowing I had something important that needed to be shared. As a result, with her help I feel I have written my best book.
How did you know you wanted to be a writer? How did you get started?
Ever since I won a poetry contest in the second grade, I saw myself as a writer. Throughout school, I wrote plays, poems and short stories. Then in my twenties I wrote a memoir that was never published. I decided to put this memoir, Unexpected Angels, on Kindle later this year. It chronicles the six months I spent in jail when I was nineteen. My cellmates turned out to be my angels, helping me discover who I really was and the gifts I should share with the world. After that, I’ve never quit writing.
Do you have any writing rituals?
Saturday is my sacred space for writing. I start very early and write until there is nothing more to say. Then I edit throughout the week.
Did you learn anything from writing and publishing this book? What?
I cut more than 80 pages from this book before it was published. I learned that people don’t need to know the entire backstory. They want to understand and then move forward. It was a great exercise in humility.
If you were doing it all over again, what would you do differently?
I would stick with my gut on the subtitle. I wanted to go with “smart, strong women” but my editor talked me into “high-achieving women.” Now I realize that many people think I’m talking about executive women. I’m not, so I could lose potential readers because of the title.
What types of books do you like to read? Who are your favorite authors?
I love Margaret Wheatley and Peter Block. Both are amazing thinkers who continue to evolve in their perspective and their purpose. I hope to do the same.
Are you working on your next book? What can you tell us about it?
I believe my next book will be on inclusion. I have come to see that the more I talk about how men and women are different, the more I support stereotypes and separation. For women to advance, we have to focus on similarities of values, of vision, and of purpose. Then we can see how our differences are a means of contribution instead of competition. The ideas are just forming, but I think they are important to the work I do on leadership.
What is the best advice you could give other writers about writing or publishing?
Don’t look for what will sell. Write what you are passionate about. There are so many ways to distribute your writing, there will be ways for you to find readers. If you write from your heart–and continually work on your craft so you write well–people will show up to read your words.
Who is the perfect reader for your book?
Smart, strong, goal-driven women. They might be executives or homemakers, but they are driven to excel at whatever they do, and then once they complete one project, they seek something new to excel at. Yet, they are never satisfied because they will never find what they are seeking in the results. These women that will find many of the answers they seek when doing the exercises and answering the questions in Wander Woman.
Where can readers learn more about you and your book?