For the first time in a handful of years, the St. James Plaindealer employs a local writer.

Arely Anaya, from Butterfield, has joined the Plaindealer staff as a writer, covering primarily government and city functions, as well as local events, including last weekend’s Summer Sizzler in Butterfield.

“I was intrigued by the Plaindealer because it was local,” said Anaya. “I had been out of school for over a month and wanted to continue to work on my communication skills and be more active in the community.”

Anaya, originally from Chicago, graduated from Butterfield-Odin, then returned back to Chicago for school, graduating from Columbia College Chicago, with an emphasis on fiction writing.

While at Columbia, Anaya was published numerous times, but it’s that first time she was published that still sticks out.

“I was just a freshman and I was proud because I knew that it was mainly grad students who were published.”

Anaya wrote a short story, called “How To Stop Playing With Dolls”, a story about sexual assault.

“I had never written anything like that, because it’s pretty terrifying,” said Anaya. “But being in college and having that freedom, I knew that topic was often dismissed and stigmatized.”

The feedback Anaya got on the piece was overwhelmingly positive.

“A lot of people said that it was very real, said Anaya. “That’s what I was hoping to accomplish because it proved that I did my research. Any time you write about someone’s experience there's always a fear that you’ll get it wrong.”

While at Columbia, a college known for it’s fine arts across various forms of media, Anaya was able to hone her writing skills, and now brings those feature writing skills to the Plaindealer.

In addition to her time with the Plaindealer, Anaya spends time working on a big farm, playing bass guitar and spending time with her nine other siblings, and, of course, writing.