Writing her own story

With seven years of experience in the media industry, Cindy van Wyk is ambitious and ready to thrive as the new Namibian Sun sub-editor.

10 January 2020 | People

Justicia Shipena

A boisterous laugh echoes from the Namibia Media Holdings newsroom just next to the Namibian Sun editor’s office, where Cindy van Wyk started working as a sub-editor on Monday.

Her job entails checking newspaper articles for grammatical and spelling errors, coherence, style and flow, and polishing the writing to make it the best it can be while keeping the writer's voice intact. “It's a bit like polishing a rough diamond to make it pretty and sparkly,” she says.

Van Wyk holds an honours degree in print media and English from the University of Namibia (Unam). Her writing has been published by The Namibian and the Huffington Post. She is also the founder of Van Wyk Editing.

“I have edited works like the award-winning South African children's book ‘Mpumi's Magic Beads’ by Lebohang Masango; ‘An Angel's Sin’, a Namibian fantasy novel by Andelaine Tsowases; and several poetry collections by Kenyan-born, American-based writer and poet NL Shompole,” she says.

“I studied journalism because it was, in my mind, the first step to becoming a writer, and along the way, I fell irrevocably in love with sub-editing and proofreading. I like to think that I didn't choose my career, it chose me,” she says.

Passionate about literature, people, red wine, good steak and long naps, Van Wyk says before she saw the vacancy advertised, she had been thinking of taking the next step in her career to grow not only her skills as a sub-editor, but her personal development too.

“I had always wanted to work for the Namibian Sun, so the stars aligned. I really enjoy the culture at NMH and what the company stands for, so it was an easy decision to make.”

On the challenges she’s encountered over the years, she says learning to work with people to bring the best out of their writing is both a never-ending challenge and an incredible reward.

She adds that learning not to take things personally has possibly been her biggest challenge so far.

“Getting promoted in just eight months in 2015 and winning employee of the year in my department at the end of last year stand out as the best moments at my previous job. I look forward to learning more and achieving more at Namibian Sun.”

According to her, the most essential thing to remember in any work environment is to “keep the main thing the main thing”.

“Sometimes tempers flare, you won’t always get along with everyone and people just have bad days, but the most important thing should always be the work and doing it to the best of your ability.”

She tells Careers that she can’t pinpoint just one piece of advice that has proven the most valuable in her career. She has been fortunate to have had incredible mentors who taught her much about life, love, leadership, feminism and being a good person.

“I wouldn't be half the woman I am today without the incredible lessons I've learnt from Ina le Roux, my high school Afrikaans teacher; Dr Selma Ashikuti, one of my lecturers at Unam, and Johnathan Beukes, my former boss and second dad.”

Van Wyk not only knows her way with words, but enjoys cooking and photography too.

Her future plans include obtaining a master’s degree, teaching creative writing to Namibian women and girls and one day opening a publishing house for alternative Namibian fiction. She also plans to publish the book she has been thinking of writing for several years.

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