I was recalling these fine memories the other day after talking to Harlan Ellison on the phone. Harlan Ellison was the 4th week instructor back when I went to antediluvian Clarion. This was one of the august workshop's less stellar years. Like, Dean Smith and Kris Rusch went the year *after* - and Lucius Shepherd (vastly taller, vastly larger than me) went the year before. Ja, and then there's . . .
Anyway, one of our group in 1984 (ja! *THAT* year) was a fantasy writer named Sasha Miller. Later on, she was the early editor of Speculations Magazine. Keep in mind I was only 21 at the time and I was pretty "out of it." I knew things were going on, but I wasn't much party to them. I knew, for example, that there was this boiling cauldron of resentment against Sasha. As far as I knew, she had this great word processor and lots of money. I had a manual typewriter and $115. She seemed nice. I wasn't particularly a fantasy writer so I didn't take much of this personally.
There were a couple of things Sasha did to arouse the ire of her fellow Clarionites. First, it seemed she wasn't listening to our critiques of her fantasy stories. We would comment on some fairly obvious flaws, and then the next week, here would come another tale -- exactly the same! This bothered some people more than others. After three weeks of this, however, it started to bug everyone -- even me. Then came Harlan. That's another tale. Suffice it to say that within 20 minutes of Harlan's arrival, Sasha had stormed from the room screaming, and did not return for the rest of that week.
The other thing she did that bothered folks was . . . knit. This is the combo. She would listen intently to anything anybody said about her prolifically identical fantasy tales and chapters, and then tune out and knit through the responses to everyone else's work. Click click click. Clackety clack clack. After Harlan left and she was returning, here comes another one of her identical clonetales. We were out in the hall in small knots of people, sharing our outrage. Well, I was more following along with the general outrage, being as out of it as I was, but - you get the picture. What to do? "I'll say this!" announces one person. "I'll tell her where she can put her trunk stories!" This was the first time I ever heard the term, "trunk story," by the way. Yes - it seems to have been true. She came to Clarion with a trunkful of trunk stories and proceeded to parcel them out. As everyone knows, you're not supposed to do that.
That day in the workshop, it came time to "go 'round" the circle regarding her "trunk story." Of course I had some smart comment to make (Not! I have no idea what I said, slavishly following along with everyone else). Did she knit that day? I think she must have. I remember a lot of people expressing their outrage at the knitting. Then, it happened. I can see this as clearly as the day it happened. Kathe Koja sat across from me, and not too far from Sasha. When it came her turn, Kathe stood and sort of jumped over the couch, Sasha's trunk tale clutched in her hand, and bent over and mimed wiping her butt with it. "This!" she declared, "Is what I think of your story!"
So we might have been dysfunctional and the admissions system that year might have been really off (I learned later that the advertisement article I read by Algis Budrys was placed because they were so far down on applicants they had to "put out the word") - but nobody has this type of great story.
The moral of this tale is: Never Knit in A Workshop or You'll Put Your Eye Out!