It’s never easy saying good-bye to someone, but as a writer one of the toughest good-byes we have to make occasionally is to our editor who moves on. Such became the case with me this week. I had to say good-bye to Suzy Clarke, my editor of many years with Mill & Boon. Suzy left her post to go home and be a full-time mother. For that, I wish her all the joy and happiness in the world.
For me though, it’s a sad day, because I’ve grown accustomed to Suzy’s editing. I understand her probably as much as she understands me, which is why this relationship of so many years has worked. We’ve gotten to know each other.
My first few years with Harlequin, I went through a myriad of editors, most of them with me long enough to edit two books before they moved on. That was a tough time because I never knew what to expect. I was lucky in that most of the editors who crossed my path were good. There was one particular case, though, where my assigned editor had a difficult time making a decision, which resulted in me going round and round in circles. Then came Suzy, and at first she scared me because she came with such glowing praise from senior editor. And I’ll be honest and tell you that Suzy had some high expectations and some pretty touch demands in what she wanted from her writers. That’s probably why she came with the glowing praise – she turned out good work for Mills & Boon.
Like a marriage, the first few months of our relationship were trial and error, but we eventually settled down into what worked, and got to know each other. And that’s when I really started to appreciate Suzy for the expertise she brought to the relationship. Quite simply she made my writing better. In turn, her guidance made me want to be a better writer. I suppose you could say this became the point where I trusted Suzy with my work. Trusting someone else with your work is a huge step in a writer’s life. Maybe not quite like trusting someone else with your child, but close.
I never took Suzy for granted because as a writer I always knew that editors come and go. But somehow I avoided thinking about that because I really liked my writer-editor relationship and didn’t want to see anything about that change. Well, it did, as of this week. And while I’m not orphaned, and I know my new editor will work her way into my trust just as Suzy did, I’m still sad to see my old friend depart. But that’s the writing life. You roll with the punches, and look forward to new relationships that can guide you over the path as well as the old ones did.
But darn, I’ll sure miss Suzy.