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  • At first, my absence from cowbird, from posting that is, was explainable. It was a year ago, April 2012, and I had just finished a five-month flurry of activity, punctuated by a series on maple sugaring which is, in itself, a real time eater.

    I had gotten behind. Terribly behind. For those who don’t know me, I run a small but monstrously ambitious nonprofit in Vermont called Young Writers Project. We engage kids to write, help them get better at it and then publish their best work wherever and whenever and however we can – in 22 newspapers and on radio each week, online, on this site.

    There’s a lot more to our work than that, of course: We glean work to publish from 100-350 submissions a week; we hold events and workshops at our new NxN Center; we do community work (on Wednesday nights I work with ex- and not-so-ex addicts); we run an online teen writing community that gets about 1,200 visits a day; and, oh yes, we work closely with about 40 schools – 250 teachers and 6,000 students – providing a digital classroom platform I developed and extensive professional development for teachers. I also teach a graduate course to about 50 teachers from all over the state.

    And I constantly raise money to keep us going. (Got a dime?)

    That’s my daytime. At night I tinker with our prototype Web sites to try to stay up with the Big Boy Web Companies (you know who they are) and devise new ways to make it easier for teachers and students to do cool things with their creative spirits. And I try to get out of my head the thousands of ideas that pop into it about how we could do this or that or the other thing to help youths (or help teachers help youths) engage more deeply in what many find a loathsome and pointless and boring task – writing.

    Which brings me back to cowbird.

    When April 2012 rolled around, when I had put up the last of the year’s syrup and taken stock of my Gotta-Do-Yesterday List, I freaked. And it was months before I recovered.

    By then, I confess, the great American Newness Syndrome had set in – We love new stuff, can’t get enough of it; then our enthusiasm wanes; then we start complaining about it; then we drift away. Confession #2: I was overwhelmed when the cowbird spigots were opened an instead of hundreds there were thousands of storytellers some of whom, frank to say, weren’t that great. I also got confused, tired little 61-year-old brain that I have, by the sudden and constant alterations of ‘the interface’ that made me think of taking a long walk off a short pier.

    But being a true and proper writer, GUILT seeped its way back in. I found myself thinking more deeply about reentering this world in the summer, but, like a true and proper writer, PROCRASTINATION overtook GUILT, and summer stretched into Fall and whirled into winter and melted into spring.

    And here we are. April (though it seems like November outside) in Vermont.

    Sugar season is over. (Short, fun, sweet.)

    Stories percolate.

    My schedule overwhelms.

    Fuck it. I need to write.

    I hope that a few of you will read, will encourage, and I will slowly creep back into this place, under the cover of a full moon hidden mostly by clouds.
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