I was fourteen when I attempted to write my first novel. Half finished, riddled with spelling mistakes and printed in pink, I gave it to my English teacher and asked her for her comments. A month later she handed it back to me and told me it was 'good', without having read it.
How did I know she hadn't read it? The story was about an assassin for hire who disposed of her 'kills' in her bathtub by dissolving their remains in sulphuric acid. I'm pretty sure if she had read it, one heck of a letter would have been sent home.
With the lack of constructive criticism from my English teacher, I placed my novel writing on hold. I dallied mainly with typical teenage, angst-ridden poetry until several years later, and on a romantic whim, I turned a boy I knew into a superhero. Generously, I included some of his friends and chronicled their adventures as a birthday present to him.
My relationship with the superhero version of the boy lasted the completion of a dozen short stories. My relationship with the real life boy didn't.
What writing those stories did do (other than remind me how much boys suck), was to help me rediscover how much I loved to write. I know it doesn't sound like something you'd be likely to forget, but who can think rationally when they're a teenager?
Now, a decade and a half after my first novel attempt, I've come full circle. Once again I have my novel in my hands, though this time it's not printed with pink ink, it's spell checked within an inch of its life and the content is less likely to get any letters sent home. All I have to do is a few minor revisions before I start querying. And I've never been more terrified in my life.