When I was 17 and a student at College of Marin (a J.C. in Kentfield, CA) I took a creative writing class. After lecturing on the elements of a story, the instructor gave us a 300 - 500 word assignment.
I'd been playing with words through essays and other non-fictional meanderings all my life, but had never written fiction.
The grade I received for that first-ever-story was a 'D.' I was horrified - this was a blow to my ego--I considered myself very literate--and it hurt me that the instructor didn't like my tortuously put together fiction about anan angel who gets stuck on earth and struggles to escape.
Looking back, I think that story was far more successful than the grade showed: I looked inside myself and came up with a pretty amazing level of expression. If I could go back in time and argue the grade with that instructor, I'd probably tell him he was grading all wrong: the A's should have been going to those who most clearly expressed their inner selves rather than the ones who knew best how to string together a plot.