I started writing as a kid, but never considered writing for publication until I was around 30 years old. Then it occurred to me that making a living as a writer wouldn't be a bad deal. I wrote four novels, went through numerous workshops and critique groups, and worked hard to improve my writing skills. In 2005, I attended the Viable Paradise workshop in beautiful Martha's Vineyard. It was probably the single most influential, helpful writing-related event I've experienced. I hope to repeat it next year.
That same year, I entered my novel in a contest for which first-place was a hardcover contract. I won! The publisher wanted to work with an agent, though, so I made a list of the ten most relevant agents for the genre and queried them. That's when I found out that getting an agent when you already have a publishing contract is pretty easy. The Kinshield Legacy was my first published novel.
In the late 1990s, I was a contributing author for a tech book published by Prima Publishing. I've also been writing professionally for software companies for about eleven years now, with a nine-year break to write software (C++). Writing software is fun, but technical writing is less stressful.