I've worked as a newspaper reporter, sold short stories and articles and even written pieces for free, just to get the experience and exposure. I've worked at a "day job" and written nights and weekends; whatever it took to fulfill my dream of becoming a published author.
My mother influenced me greatly as a child by taking me the library every week in our small town. She loved to read and passed that on to me. I typed my first short story when I was a teenager on a little portable typewriter my father bought for me.
I discovered Agatha Christie's novels when I was young and she influenced my writing somewhat. I also leaned toward detective novels and later the paranormal. All of the books I read in those genres have invluenced my writings today.