My friend Melissa posted something on her blog about the first thing she remembers writing, which was a novel when she was 11 years old. And it got me thinking about the first thing I remember writing. It was a short story called "Lily and the Art Gallery" about -- wait for it! -- a girl named Lily who visits an art gallery. (As one does at age nine?) I was nine, and I think that remains the only short story I've ever written to this day. (Surely that means something?) Anyway, Lily wanders away from her parents and is so entranced by a painting that she touches it and discovers -- whoops! -- it's actually still wet. Naturally, the guards have to escort her out and her parents yell at her, but Lily explains that she didn't do it on purpose, and there's a lovely, Full House-esque ending.
Unfortunately, I can't be sure of any of this. I wrote "Lily" on loose-leaf paper 21 years ago, and between moves and floods (don't grow up on a bay, kids) and cleaning sprees, it's floating in a a landfill somewhere. It's surely joined by the brilliant Flowerlon series that K and I co-wrote (or rather, she wrote, and I designed the covers. We were a book packaging company before we knew those existed.) and the class newspaper I helped create in fifth grade (which I was totally trying to turn into the Sweet Valley Sixer).
So this is my plea to everyone out there: treasure your early starts. Make it a point to save your scraps, your notes, your out-of-the-lines coloring books. You never know when you'll want to look back on them, and how amazing it'll be. One of my favorite paintings hanging in my parents' house, for example? A messy, charming watercolor my dad did when he was around seven years old.
If only Lily were around to see it.