Rob Vagle
Writing Progress

Now Appearing: my short story "He Angles, She Refracts" in Heliotrope issue #3

"The Fate of Captain Ransom" in Strange New Worlds 10

My short story "After The Sky Fell" in Polyphony 5, Wheatland Press

"Messages" appeared in Realms Of Fantasy, April 2001

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February 2002

Wednesday, February 6

It's about time I make an update here about the Rockaway weekend. Sorry about that.

The writing went well. I wrote 700 words on Friday night. Saturday morning I wrote 1100 words by noon. I loved my productivity on Saturday morning. However, the afternoon and evening I didn't get any more writing done besides the rewriting on another story. And I started to hate the story I started at Rockaway, but I didn't find the love by the end of the weekend. Sunday I wrote 300 words.

I didn't finish a story, but I got a start. The problem was the characters. I needed to flesh them out, give the main character a problem, perhaps a secret too if not just something to care about. So that story, The Sudden Room, is started and on file.

Meals, conversation, writing, and a little reading (Kate Wilhelm's story in the current F&SF) filled the weekend. Leslie What wrote a story about the study of hermits, Jerry Oltion wrote about an A.I. that wanted to be an astronaut, and Devon Monk wrote about a hamster and a bar bet. And this is just the tip of the iceberg. More good stories wre read on Sunday night.

It was cloudy and rainy all weekend. On Monday, it was a beautiful day for the drive back home. Clouds stayed away from the sun along the coast from Rockaway Beach to Lincoln City. There, I visited the Yorks with the Oltions. Then I headed east back to the valley. The sun stayed out.


When I got home on Monday it was five in the afternoon and I didn't write anything.

Since Monday I've been writing and rewriting two stories. I'm having commitment problems! I want to have After The Sky Fell done for Kate and Damon's workshop on Saturday. I'm feeling good about this one. It's going well. I also want to get Darkness Elixir in the mail on Friday at the latest. Argh! I should have had that story out last week.

Thursday, February 7

It looks like I no longer have the commitment problems. My mind has been focused on After The Sky Fell. I wrote over four hundred words. I gotta bring this baby to a finish tomorrow, which should be doable.

I had taken a nap in the afternoon. I don't think I was asleep for an hour before I woke to the sound of the wind and debris hitting the house. I wondered if civilization was still outside. Maybe I had been blown to Oz.

Nope I was still in Eugene.

Quite a windstorm here. Trees uprooted, power lines down, cars crushed and houses damaged by trees. Powerful wind, powerful surprise.

Monday, February 11

I finished After The Sky Fell and brought it to Damon and Kate's for critique on Saturday. We had five stories to critique that night, including one from Damon Knight. I'm sorry, I can't critique a story from a Grand Master. I'm not worthy! But I gave it a shot. There wasn't much wrong with the story, I thought.

I got a great response on my story. This third person version is much better than the first person version I wrote last summer. I'm on the right track with this story. The critique shed some light on what needs to be cut or changed. It should be an easy fix. I even got a smiley face from Damon on my manuscript and he also said it should sell. That's always nice to hear. The idea and central image of this story is its strong point.

And onto other things . . . There's another stay at Rockaway for me in the near future. Leslie is renting a room at Colony House to work on her novel. Nina asked if she could share the house and she also suggested me. So Leslie is gracious to share the house with two others as she works on her novel. Three writers should produce an adequate amount of synergy. I'll have five days to write there, away from the e-mail and other distractions and I think it will be better for me with only two other people in the house. When I went to Rockaway a week ago, nine other people was a lot.

I like that house, the atmosphere, the view of the ocean, and the coast itself.

Wednesday, February 13

I was having a hard time starting a new story, but I think I made a breakthrough today. Why be boring when writing. Shake things up. Try a creative narrative. Make a room the main character. Think around the story. Funny, I knew these things before, but sometimes I just need to remind myself.

I'll see if I can get a first draft of it done by Sunday. I should get After The Sky Fell in the mail on Saturday.

Friday, February 15

I started a new story today. Forget about the story Wednesday. Something's wrong with that story (or maybe it's me) and I need to find that special something that will make me write it. On the other hand, today's story had that special something, a reason, a writing impetous.

I didn't get a thousand words, however. Sometimes it seems like the words just crawl from me. Lately, I've been getting that feeling all the time.

On a lighter note, I got my first short-short from Bruce Holland Rogers today. Check out his subscription service here. For three dollars you get a year's worth of short-short stories from Bruce. How many depends on how many subscribers. He's past one hundred already, which means two stories a month. Check out the link to see how he's doing it and subscribe. This is a unique way to generate some income from this writing business.

Sunday, February 17

This won't be much of an entry. I'm ready to leave for Colony House in Rockaway Beach!

I'll be back on Thursday and I'll report on all the writing I got done. :-) And also report on the ocean, the company of Nina and Leslie, and anything else I feel worthy of reporting.

Have a good week.

Thursday, February 21

How about a little Rockaway report?

On Sunday on the way to Rockaway I stopped in Lincoln City to have lunch with Steve and Chris York and Dean and Kris. And, of course, Nina and Leslie.

After lunch we went to see the all the work Dean has done on the house for the two week workshop in March. He added walls in some rooms to make smaller bedrooms, so now there will be twelve rooms for twelve students. It's amazing. From outside the house doesn't look that big. The rooms aren't too small either.

I got excited about the workshop after seeing the house. It's only a little over a week away.

Then Nina, Leslie, and I were on our way up the coast. We didn't get to Rockaway until after 5pm. And this is where Sunday gets interesting. We get to the Colony House and we find there are people staying there already. They were out to dinner and they didn't lock the doors. This didn't look good. We were suppose to have the house on Sunday night. There were at least six people staying in the house plus children, judging by their belongings strewn about the house. We knew they weren't going anywhere that night and we knew there was some kind of booking mix up.

Long story short here. We found a motel for the night. We were very bummed about this since we were looking forward to getting into that house. Leslie was worried she made the mistake, but she found out later she did have the correct dates. So after some much needed dinner we returned to the Colony House and we asked the people how long they were staying. Turns out they were leaving on Monday by noon (checkout time).

This was a rocky start to the week. I didn't get any writing done on that day. Leslie let me use her laptop because there was an idea I could use it for that workshop in March. However, it was late in the evening and I'm usually a loss for words that time of the night.

Hey, Monday started good. There's this cafe in Rockaway Beach that serves bananna bread french toast. I saw it on the menu when I was there earlier in the month. I told Nina and Leslie I wanted to try that, so the three of us ventured out across the street (it really is a small town) to have breakfast. I got three slices, Nina got two, and it was filling. Leslie ordered . . . I'm having a lapse in memory, but whatever she had she loved it. I know she got a scone, but that wasn't all. The coffe was great. Service was excellent too. And Leslie proclaimed the R&R Cafe to be her favorite restaurant.

We finally got in the Colony House at noon on Monday. Leslie made clam chowder soup before starting to write and that soup lasted us until the last day.

We came up with The Log Challenge. It goes like this: in the evening, we agree to write 500 more words and then we throw a log in the fire place and enjoy the fire. This worked great. We achieved Log! Every night we were there.

Word count for me: 4600 words written between Monday and Thursday morning. The best day was Tuesday when I wrote 1770 words. I have a thousand word story that might be fine with some clean up. I also did some rewriting on After The Sky Fell. I threw many words at another short story. I'm having trouble finishing things. It feels good to get words down and I feel loosened up but why can't I finish anything? I might be close to figuring this out. It all has to do with finding the emotional core of a story and writing about it honestly.

I know Leslie wrote more words than I did. Maybe a thousand words more. I didn't find out how many Nina wrote, but she was working steadily.

I also read some chapters of Don Maass's How To Write A Blockbuster Novel. I read it last summer but I wanted to read it again for the workhop in March.

We saw one great sunset during the week when the sky was actually clear and we could see the sun. The other days either had rain and clouds or just clouds.

Much production and much fun this week.

Sunday, February 24

Since I got back from Rockaway, I haven't been too productive. How odd. In fact, on Friday I worked an eight hour day at my job. Help was needed there and I thought I could use the extra money. So as long as it was one day, I did it. I won't offically be back to work full time until March 18th.

Next Saturday I'll be at that two-week workshop on coast. And I'll be leaving Friday, a day early to drop of my stuff. I'm going to the Portland airport on Saturday to pick up a couple of people for the workshop. I won't be able to update while I'm at the workshop, but I'll give a report when I get back.

I have much to get done this week. Stories to mail, things to pack, finish re-reading Writing The Breakout Novel. I think it would be best to get new tires for my car--doesn't look like much tread left.

Wow, four days left before I leave!

Wednesday, February 27

I'm getting things done, getting things ready for Friday. I did laundry, read more of Writing The Breakout Novel, and I found out my refrigerator wasn't working. The frozen pizza was thawing and the milk was warm. Just give me something else to deal with before I leave. Ha! At least the refrigerator willl be empty when I leave.

I have to get tires tomorrow too. Oh, yes. Let's not forget about the writing. :-)

Hopefully a journal entry of more substance tomorrow.

Thursday, February 28

I got a new refrigerator for the apartment today. Actually, it's used, but new to me. Not only did the store deliver it, they took away the old one. And I didn't know how to handle this with landlord.

It's a shame I haven't painted a clear picture in this journal of where I live. The landlord, George lives in the main house. He's in his seventies or early eighties and he is, for lack of a better word, a shut-in. Dan, who lives in a small building right off the back of the house, takes care of George's groceries and filling the pellet stove. Dan writes and he is a pottery maker--he sells his pottery at the Saturday Market here in Eugene.

Years ago George had built this duplex apartment in the back. I live in the north end, Ray lives in the south end.

All the appliances in the duplex have been brought in by renters. Either they take the appliances with them, or they leave them when they move out. I was lucky enough that the Yorks left a refrigerator behind. They bought it used when they moved in. It lasted a five or six years, and now I needed to get a new refrigerator.

I don't think George has much money. Our rent is cheap, oh so cheap, all utilities included. I mow the grass on the property. As I said, Dan helps George out. Ray helps George out on occasion, too. To elaborate more about the duplex: Ray and I both agree we might the last renters in these apartments. Squirrels are leaving in the crawl space. We hear them scurrying around in the ceiling all the time. Sometimes they try to chew through the ceiling. One morning I found a small part of the floor gone next to the tub in the bathroom. As I looked closer at the hole, the nose of a raccoon poked out from under the tub. The hole is from a rotting floor, not from the raccoon.

What I'm getting at is the upkeep of this place isn't taken care of by George. In his condition, he can't be expected too. And the other three of us on this property are not handymen. We do what we can, but his place needs a lot.

The plus side is the rent is cheap. I have a bedroom PLUS an office. As well as a living room and kitchen. It's a lot of space for what I pay.

Then, of course, the downside of having to buy myself another refrigerator. George understands it's mine and I'll either take it with me when I leave or I'll sell it. It's just like every other renter has done and I couldn't ask George to pay for it. If I did, I would have had free rent for the month! One other note, when Ray moved in, he had no refrigerator and he bought one of those dorm sized ones. Not much room in those puppies and no decent freezer to speak of.

It was a busy day getting some things done before I leave for two weeks. This was one hell of a boring entry, aye? I think I would have rather
written about leaving for workshop.

Perhaps another journal entry before I leave tomorrow.

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