THERE ARE a million writers out there, and 10,000 writers groups. To stand out from the pack, you have to be unique. Half of my supposed hostility toward MFAers is that they're the Herd, and the task is to stand apart from the Herd. In every way possible. (The other half is that writing programs lead to a dead art. See the decline of the American short story.)
The ULA was unique in many respects. We willfully stood apart. We shouted, "We're different!" In a store aisle of plastic gray bottles, we put a red bottle on the shelf. We didn't politely place the red bottle on the shelf. We threw it.
We weren't unique enough. Lisa Carver shrewdly pointed this out to me at our 2004 Conclave. We needed a unique look, a la the Beats. Something our own.
Our writing was consistent, as Pat King has discussed, but it wasn't new and it wasn't packaged as new. Our ideas were somewhat different, but not sea-change philosophically metaphysically different.
Everything, every aspect-- ideas, writing, presentation-- would need to give the lit world "The Shock of the New."
In this hypercompetitive time, it'd be our only chance.