In 1976, the summer after my freshman year in college, I attended the Clarion Science Fiction Writers’ Workshop on the bucolic grounds of Michigan State University. It was a six-week program, chaired each week by a different published author. The two dozen or so attendees came from all over the country, most of them beginners like me.
At the opening cocktail party I met a hip but very serious young man named Paul who looked like he had just walked off a commune (which I’m pretty sure he had): macrobiotically starved, with stringy hair, what looked like tree moss growing on his neck, and faded purple corduroys, their tattered ends exposing narrow feet. This was actually his second time at Clarion, he told me, and he confided that some of his earlier work had been considered controversial.