Local author and former reporter for The Inquirer Susan G. Weidener spoke to students at West Chester University during an evening journalism class to discuss her recently self-published memoir and share both past experiences and predictions in the journalism industry. She received a B.A. in English from American University and a M.S. in education from the University of Pennsylvania. She spent the majority of her career reporting locally for several Philadelphia area newspapers including The Inquirer, The Daily Local, The Mainline Times and The Suburban and Wayne Times, until she left the industry in 2007 to “pursue a more creative writing path.”
Weidener’s book, published in July 2010, is called “Again in a Heartbeat: A Memoir of Love, Loss, and Dating Again.” It reflects her emotional journey through the death of her husband to cancer and the toll it took on her marriage and family. She called the ordeal a “transformative process” in which she embraced her emotions and noted that the writing process was cathartic. She said ,”It allowed me to let go of my inner critic and believe in my story.”
Feeling as though she had let her husband and family down, Weidener expressed a broad range of emotion including guilt, regret and sorrow, but said that writing about it made it easier to bear. Having dreams of being a writer since junior year of high school, she said that she “felt comfortable writing and the hours just flew by.”
Having begun a writing career as a journalist, she said she had become used to critique from editors until her writing became “flawless” and as a result, she is meticulous with her fact-checking and editing skills. This also fueled her tenacity in self-publishing her book.
She is the founder of The Women’s Writing Circle, a group of local female writers which meets monthly in the independently owned Wellington Square Bookshop, to critique each other’s work and encourage progress. This type of criticism, she said, is what inspired her to write a memoir and recognize “the power of coming together as a community of writers.”
Weidener also gave advice to potential future journalists from West Chester University in reference to technology and the changing market of print media in the future.
She mentioned that print news reporting has been under pressure from online competitors and spoke of a shift toward localized news reporting and “quick-hit, beat the clock” style reports being published.
She said “This will dictate the future of newspapers and will tell the tale of whether or not print journalism will survive.” She also encouraged blogging and freelancing on internet news outlets on a specific area of specialty in order to keep up with the dynamic shift from print to electronic media.
She said “I believe in writers having an audience and sharing what they’ve done,” and expressed hope that her writing path will inspire others to tell their tale and feel the same satisfaction. She said that it was both her experiences and her journalism background that helped with the writing and allowed her to channel strong emotions into a successful and engaging memoir.
Leah Skye is a third-year student majoring in communications. She can be reached at LS685444@wcupa.edu.
“I believe in writers having an audience and sharing what they’ve done