A published author named Diego Baez joined the Creative Writing on Oct. 22 during a class zoom meeting and spoke to students about his journey to become a writer.
Mrs. Katie Inzinga, the Creative Writing class teacher, asked Baez to speak to the class to hopefully inspire some of the students who are looking to take the next step in writing.
“I reached out to Ms. Marine, one of the guidance counselors at Addison Trail, to see if she knew of anyone who would be interested in coming into Creative Writing to talk about writing as a profession,” said Mrs. Inzinga. “Many of the students in our class have expressed a love for writing and a desire to pursue writing in some capacity after high school, whether that be as a career, a supplemental to a career, or for their own enjoyment. It is my hope that Diego inspired some of the students to continue writing and find an audience for their writing to be heard.”
Baez grew up in the countryside of Illinois, away from the big city of Chicago. Growing up in Normal, he graduated from University High School near the Illinois State University campus. After high school, he attended Illinois-Wesleyan University and graduated with his Bachelor’s in English. From there, he would go on to attend poetry school at Rutgers-Newark in New Jersey where he earned an M.F.A. in creative writing. It has been a long journey for Baez to become an author. There were several influences that shaped Baez throughout his journey as a writer. “The number one thing is I have to remember that I like writing,” said Baez. “It can seem challenging sometimes, but if I have a choice between writing and watching a movie, I have to trust myself to write. Another thing is when a writer decides to write for someone else, you have to be open to hearing feedback from other people.”
Of course, these lessons have allowed Baez to be the great writer that he is. Although, this doesn’t mean that he is a perfect writer. Just like any other writer, Baez also goes through writer’s block. He said “I get writer’s block all the time. I can sit down and write or I can do anything else. Go for a walk, eat a sandwich, etc. There’s so much you can do besides sit down and write. Writer’s block if forreal, and every writer who writes comes across writer’s block.” The published author knows that he is not perfect, but the passion for writing keeps him going.
Mrs. Inzinga believes that people need to struggle in order to get better, not just with writing but anything in life. “ In my opinion, it’s so important to write what you love, but also to challenge yourself outside your comfort zone. If you love writing poetry, continue writing poetry, but explore writing various styles of poetry. If you love creating stories with similar plot lines, mix it up: challenge your characters to be different than your norm. It is through challenges that we grow–as writers and individuals.”
During this adventure, Baez has admitted to questioning his love for writing from when he first started saying “It’s different. Now I can’t just sit down and write anything like I used to be able to when I first started writing. It’s more rewarding now because I have more tools and skills to use now to use when I write. Back in high school, I couldn’t just write one story, finish it, and then start another story right after.”
The published author told Mrs. Inzinga that having a class like hers, where we are constantly writing story after story, is very beneficial for our community. “Diego mentioned that having a writing community like our Creative Writing class is so special and unique, and he is absolutely correct,” Mrs. Inzinga stated. “Not every school has a class that is dedicated to writing creatively, and we are so fortunate to have this course, as well as other courses like Publications, as an option to all students at Addison Trail to learn to express their written voice. One of his pieces of advice was to write often, even when you don’t feel like it”
Although Baez did question the love for writing, there is no question that writing has had a big impact on his life. He has made a living out of writing books and stories. Baez expresses what writing has done for him saying, “I think about what my life would be like without writing and it’s hard to do that. Even before I discovered authors like Edgar Allen Poe, I always liked reading and writing. I like to write and read because I like to indulge myself into the story. I try to take my familiar experiences and put it down on a paper.”
Well said by the published author as he knows the value of writing. Speaking of familiar experiences, Baez has some advice for any writer that is looking to publish any of their writing. He said, “Start local. If there’s an opportunity in high school, college, or in the community, find people who are close to you to do a little workshop with. I had a friend in college who became a notable writer who helps me set up gigs for my books. A lot of getting published is getting lucky. It can be heartbreaking when you send your story to many places and it doesn’t get published, it means it wasn’t a good fit. You have to do it for yourself, because if you try doing it for other people you will be fairly disappointed.”
Coming out of the countryside of Illinois, Baez fell in love with writing at a young age and decided to pursue it and make it his life. It has been a long journey, but it is safe to say that Diego Baez knows what it takes to become a successful published author.