Elaine Forrestal

Staying airborne

This painting of the Southern Cross by Ernest Crome combines just the right mix of fact and fiction, accuracy and elegance.

One week to go before Books From Your Backyard and my preparations are done. Which is just as well because I need to be totally focused on the latest draft of On Wings of Steel. My editor has sent me the most recent version, and gone away for three weeks. This is a golden opportunity for me to do a very careful edit without the time pressures of the previous two. My editor’s time schedule has been tight, leading up to her overseas trip, and I needed to fit in with her. Christmas and School Holidays had to be dealt with as well so it has been a busy time. Now I can sit back and contemplate the new and not-so-new suggestions my editor has made and ‘sleep on’ my responses. The manuscript is at an advanced stage so I need to be as sure as I can ever be that the changes we make are the right ones. Given that, for me, the story is never finished, this is a nail-biting time. We now have three versions. Which one should we run with? Or rather, which combination of all three? Is every sentence working as well as it possibly can? Is very word conveying the precise meaning I want? Have I left enough spaces for the reader to become involved with these important and fascinating characters? Have I delivered the historical facts in the most interesting way?

The French have the perfect expression for what I need at the moment – bon courage.