One of Susan's main criticisms was that my characters are all too nice to each other. Which is odd, because from my point of view, they're all kind of flailing about and hurting themselves and each other in the process. It's true that none of them are ever really mean, but they can certainly be self-centered. I think I may need to bring that out more, make clearer the small deceptions and violences that build to the crises. I also realized that I actually never did write out Shefali's major crisis -- it all happens backstage, and isn't even very well implied. Doh! I think for this draft, I'm actually going to mostly try to do it character by character (i.e., go through from the beginning and revise all the Shefali POV sections, in one long thread, then go back and do Gabriel, etc.) Shefali in particular needs to have her character arc way more clearly thought out and defined; I think I got so caught up in juggling the three of them, in balancing their stories, that I didn't always tell the individual stories properly.
It is much nicer, thinking about my novel, for all its myriad faults, than fretting about reviews. I had a brief talk with Bob Monday, about this August deadline for the book, and how I'm not sure I'm going to make it. I mean, I could -- there'll be a reasonably publishable book by that point. But I'd really like the fall to work on it too; I suspect I won't be happy with it without a good amount more time. It'd be a book, but possibly a mediocre book. I was afraid Bob would yell and scream and proclaim the end of my career, but he actually seemed to think that it would be okay if I ended up not making the August deadline. Not ideal, perhaps, since we'd ideally want to tightly release the trade paperback of BiM with the hardcover of TA, so one feeds into the other. But it wouldn't be the end of the world. I can't tell you what a huge relief that is; I was getting really unhappy at the idea of releasing a book I didn't love. I don't much like missing deadlines, but rescheduling them is acceptable. (Of course, that may mean that you don't get to read it until January 2007 -- sorry!)
It's also nicer to think about the book than about packing and moving. Kevin got really sick yesterday, a cold that blew up out of nowhere and gifted him with a nasty swollen throat and bad cough. So I mostly made him take it easy while I packed, though he did help me make two runs over to the new place with the last of the plants and various framed art pieces we didn't trust the movers with. The kitchen is half-done -- okay, a third done. But we can finish it today, especially if he's feeling better. I hope he wakes up feeling better.
I have about three hours now before I need to meet the painter at the new place. I'm feeling restless. I think I'm going to go ahead, shower and dress, pack up a few more hand-carry items (liquids that we aren't supposed to give the movers), and run stuff over to the new place. Once I'm there, I'm going to re-read my last student packet; she's working on a novel, and since this is the last response of the semester, I wanted to re-read the whole thing closely before giving her my final comments on it. The morning will be dedicated to that, and then to student evaluations, which are due tomorrow. That's the plan. Then come home and finish packing, staying up as late as necessary, no matter how sleepy I get. The movers come tomorrow morning.