I learned last week that one of my favorite editors — not someone who’s bought anything of mine, but a big favorite nonetheless — has left his job. Happens all the time, no big deal, etc., etc. — except that I don’t know where he went, or whether he’s even staying in the business, as an editor or otherwise.

I hope he is sticking around. At my first big SCBWI conference three years ago, he critiqued the first 10 pages of my novel — the full extent of what I had managed (painfully) to write up to that point. “I don’t generally like this kind of writing,” he began, to my alarm — and then he went on to talk about all the things he found surprisingly likeable about those 10 pages. He said he would be interested in reading more.

So I wrote more. His gentle encouragement fueled me through the writing of the rest of the story, which had been knocking around in my head for the better part of a decade. In the end, he passed on my novel. But the fact that it even exists for other editors to read is a testament to the impact that kind, well-placed words can have on a newbie writer, and I hope that more writers will get to hear them from him.