A catch up with one of SA’s promising authors.
Cayleigh Bright was destined to write. From a very young age, she’d visit the library with her parents and immerse herself in story books and novels. Even before knowing how to put pen to paper, she’d replay these stories with her toys at home. Cayleigh always knew she wanted to write, certain she ‘d one day write a book.
Fast forward to today, Cayleigh is a magazine journalist, GQ South Africa‘s books editor and Glamour’s online editor.
Her debut novel Close to Home is also on the bookshelves. When Cayleigh’s not writing, she’s experimenting in the kitchen or trying her hand at coding. CHLOE PARK-ROSS caught up with Cayleigh to get to know more about the life of an author.
Q: What was your journey and development as a writer like and how did you become one?
I arrived at UCT to study English with little idea how a BA worked, so I ended up choosing electives almost at random. I did an internship at Glamour during my final year. As I was finishing up my Honours, I got a call to come back to Condé Nast full-time as an assistant, and over the course of a few years worked my way up to Online Editor at Glamour. It was during that time that I was completing my Creative Writing Masters part-time, which was where I strung together all the pieces of a story that I’d been writing in notebooks for a year or two.
Q: What has been your greatest writing achievement?
Publishing my novel, Close to Home, was something I’d looked forward to since I was eight years old, and the moment didn’t disappoint. Now to get the next one written!
Q. How do you decide what to write about? Where do you get ideas?
Just about everywhere! I always carry a notebook with me for when a line or two of a story pops into my head, or when I get an idea for a feature that I’d like to write that I can sketch out for when I’m next sending pitches off to magazines. I hope it goes without saying that to be a writer, you’ve got to be a reader – reading as widely as you can will help you to understand what you enjoy reading and will inspire everything from subject matter to style.
Q. What general advice would you give aspirant writers/journalists just starting out?
Try to remember that, as with most things in life, there’s no standard formula or order of events that you need to follow. For example, many writers get short stories published while they’re working on their first book, but I’ve never had a short story published. Many journalists study journalism or a related field, and others don’t. Some writers start off as interns, and others don’t. Finding out what works for you means perseverance, but also forgiving yourself for making mistakes and then getting right back to work.
Q: What do you consider to be the most important writing tip you ever received?
“Just get it done.” I was lucky enough to receive this advice from Lauren Beukes when I was starting out as a writer and interviewing her for GQ. I think I’d told her about how I’d written pieces of a novel that I kept attempting to polish and perfect, and she told me that putting everything down on paper was the first step. Sure enough, once the whole story was set out, it became much easier to see what
Visit Cayleigh’s Website for more of her editorial and copywriting work
With more than 10 years of writing experience under her belt, Cayleigh is just getting started. Ideas of her second book are in the pipeline. She‘s certainly one of South Africa’s raw and young talents to look out for.
About Chloe Park-Ross
Chloe Park-Ross is a Cape Town-based freelance writer with an adventurous and bold spirit. When she’s not writing, she is hiking, running or getting involved in her local community. Chloe thrives in nature, and with her passion for photography, she transforms her memories into photographs.