I have been writing stories for as long as I can remember, though they weren't always intended to be read. My earliest forays into writing were inspired by the video games that I grew up with--games of my older brother's generation, that had just the barest hint of a plot, usually no more than to establish a simple motive for the protagonist. I would always find myself wondering about the details, and wanting to see more intricate stories play out, and began developing video games from the story level first.
It wasn't until I first read Charles Dickens' David Copperfield at age 8 that I really started to consider writing stories for their own sake, but once I started, I couldn't stop. The frustrations I had at my inability to draw, or code, or procure the vast resources necessary to make a video game come together no longer mattered--it was pure creation. However, thoughts of writing as a career seemed like a dream to me: a dream I cherished, but one that was entirely out of my reach.
That changed when I turned 11 and first started posting stories on the internet. I received an incredible outpouring of support at this critical juncture, and even found myself in the capable hands of a mentor a few years my senior and my brother in the craft of writing. Soon, the five hours a day spent writing for hypothetical video games had given way entirely to five hours a day spent writing these stories, some short, some quite long. I completed my first novel-length piece (71,000~ words) at age 14, and I felt like a king.
At this time, I was also reading more voraciously than ever before, and the writers who would have the strongest influence on me made their impressions during that time: Tolkien, Keillor, Dostoevsky, Cervantes, Bradford and Yoshikawa. Unfortunately, as with most people who wrote through their teens, I went through a period of unnatural, forced "deep writing," which sucked much of the joy out of the process.
Now, I'm fighting back and writing what comes naturally. Frankly, if I didn't, I think I'd explode.