A Flock of Cowbirds

Stories allow us to untangle experience, make sense of our lives, and find meaning. They are containers for wisdom and lifeboats for memory — helping us not to forget, and then later, not to be forgotten. ~ Jonathan Harris

Imagine you’re a 19th-century novelist whose supply of paper has just run out and more can’t be found anywhere. Well, something like that recently happened to more than 10,000 writers when their electrons ran out.

They all belonged to a community called Cowbird that flourished on the Net for about five years. Late last winter its founder pulled the plug, perhaps bored with the site’s upkeep but saying he wanted us all to make more of a mark on the real world. What he told the Cowbird community at the time was:

Over the past five years, we’ve told nearly 100,000 stories — stories about birth, youth, sex, love, work, war, faith, death, grief, grace, and countless other topics. Together, we created a public library of human experience, so our knowledge and wisdom could live on in the commons, as a resource for others to look to for guidance. We found beloved community here, forging deep and lasting connections.

He went on to explain what had changed his thinking about shepherding this community:

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Roadside Attractions

During the 70s my hobby was driving cross-country. I had four weeks of vacation and tried to use them all. Like most other years, in the summer of ’73 I got into my van and headed vaguely toward the Bay Area to intersect with America and various objects of desire, one of whom was Kathy, whom you first meet in Last Words. The whole ridiculous saga is reeled out here. (Six serialized Cowbird stories)


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