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Life’s Second Draft

Chelsea Peifer | Jul 3, 2013, 12:17 p.m.
Susan Weidener, creator of the Women's Writing Circle, inside the bookshop where the group meets monthly. Photo by Megan Joyce

Sometimes you create a life you’ve dreamed of and worked for, and something comes along that changes everything. In the aftermath, a person can choose to give up and stay put or to keep going forward, to find new meaning in a life with different circumstances.

As a writer and journalist, Susan Weidener had not only heard the stories of people from all walks of life, but she had also articulated and retold their stories so others could hear and understand. Writing had always been a way for Weidener to connect with others and to nurture her own soul.

So when Weidener was 44 and lost her husband—and love of her life—to a seven-year battle with cancer, she turned to writing as she chose to move forward.

Weidener and her husband, John Cavalieri, had two sons, who were ages 7 and 11 at the time John passed away.

“There were all of these messages then—and still are—that a single woman can’t raise boys alone,” said Weidener. “It’s not true. All a child needs is one charismatic adult in his or her life.”

Weidener’s perspective on single parenting might sound like effortless perseverance, but she applies her hard work ethic to whatever she approaches, embracing the reality that one person can make a difference in a person’s life. Her positive mind has forged the way for a positive life.

And her natural charisma may be what prompted so many women to join the Women’s Writing Circle that Weidener began in November 2009.

The Women’s Writing Circle began out of Weidener’s hope and dream of finding kindred spirits who could connect as a community of writers.

“It is very important when you are a writer to ease the loneliness and isolation of the work and find a community of likeminded souls,” Weidener said. “All of these women have given me a new lease on life.”

The group of women meets on the second Saturday of each month at a local bookshop. They share their writing with each other and offer support and validation—things essential to any writer’s success, both in their careers and as individuals.

“The emphasis is on how writing can lead to healing, self-discovery, and empowerment,” she said.

To merely say that Weidener loves writing would be an injustice to her true feelings, as she loves every aspect of it—“even the blood, sweat, and tears” that go into it.

“I found that writing was a journey into the soul—a path to self-discovery, as well as a way to develop understanding and empathy for others,” she said.

“When you put on paper what has tormented you, you take away the power of painful memories and put them behind you.”

Weidener is quick to point out that the group meets to connect not only as writers, but also as wives, mothers, daughters, sisters, and friends sharing their journeys.

The group has since evolved into a monthly critique session with a concentration on developing pieces of writing for potential publication, explains Weidener. Workshops have also been formed from the Women’s Writing Circle, where the focus is on the craft and alchemy of writing.

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