I do. I was in high school at the time, and my imagination blazed with dreams of being a best-selling writer. Unfortunately, typing out reams of admittedly horrible stories on my mother's IBM Selectric earned me nothing but a bunch of rejection slips.
When I wasn't writing, I escaped into the soap opera, Guiding Light (now off the air). I knew every storyline, every character, and every actor who had ever played that character. I even sent some of the actors birthday cards which, in retrospect, I doubt they appreciated.
I also got very good at spotting bloopers, both the obvious kind that daytime drama has always perpetrated (kid goes up to bed at age 7, comes down to breakfast at age 17) and the unintentional kind (an actress wearing different clothes at different times in a scene). I started to type up my observations and send them to a few soap opera publications that published bloopers columns.
Then, the miracle. One day I got home from school to find an acceptance letter and a $5.00 check from Soap Opera Digest. They were actually going to publish a blooper that I had spotted! I couldn't have been more thrilled if they'd sent me $5000.
Finally, someone had found my work worthy of publication. I walked around in a daze for weeks. That was the first piece of writing I ever sold. It would be my last for more than a dozen years. Between applying for colleges and trying to choose a "real" career, I let my writing fall by the wayside except for a hastily scribbled poem or short story every now and again.
The urge to write never left me, however, and I started to find my way back to my dream, first on a part-time basis and finally, this August, as a full-time freelance writer.
I truly believe that the short acceptance letter and $5 check I received half a lifetime ago was the spark that kept my dream alive for all those years. Even when I wasn't writing, a small part of me knew that at least some of my work was publishable, and that my writing career would always be there waiting for me.
Do you remember the first time someone paid you to write?