Before I left for the workshop, I asked one of the alumnus what going to Clarion did for him. He said that it cut a few years off of his trajectory, helping him get that much better that much more quickly. He has just published his dozenth (if it's not a word it should be) book, so I suppose he knows what the hell he's talking about! [It was Tobias Buckell, who was so very kind to me.]
Every writer's path is different. Eighteen of us were at Clarion 2009, and we have all had varying levels of success. What that means, though, is individual. Does success mean publishing a novel? publishing at least a short story a year? being nominated for one of the big SF/F awards? Or does it have to do with non-writing events in one's life? Within our class, we have several novel sales, more short story sales than I can remember, award nominations, higher education degrees begun and some finished, a marriage, a divorce, world travel and, unfortunately, a death. Take any eighteen people and you can probably rack up the same type of changes amongst them all in a handful of years. Being writers doesn't make us special, but together, with Clarion to link us, it makes us a tribe.
The new Clarion class just started this past weekend. The new tribe has been formed.