I've just published my first novel (SUN TZU'S THE ART OF DORK). I've also had several short plays produced and I have a dusty old completed screenplay which calls to me to rework every so often. Writing has always been its own reward, never a means to an end. Having my first novel pubished feels more like a validation of this concept rather than the destination of a journey.
This prompt wants to know my influences? Holy crap. Well there's THE PRINCESS BRIDE and GHOST BUSTERS. They made me laugh when I was still losing teeth, and they made me want to make other people laugh. Mainly I tried to do this by imitating Bill Murray (which was unsuccesful).
Stephen King was a big influence on me as a writer (I use a lot of parenthesis because of him). I've also been influenced by many, many individual books like STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND, SOPHIE'S WORLD, and CALIBAN'S HOUR to name an eclectic few.
Really, though, my influence is life. Life is pretty funny, joyful, and present on its own, and the writer's job (or the job of any creative artist) is to make sure as many people see that as possible.