My first attempt at a novel began at the tender age of six. It was about cowboys and indians. I discovered Tolkien at the age of eleven and my first fantasy novel was finished shortly after my sixteenth birthday. It was terrible, though I didn't think so then.
Since that time I've written around 60 short stories (2 published online, the rest unpublished), 16 novels (1 published online, 15 still no joy), 3 Dungeons & Dragons rulebooks (unpublished), and one self-help book (thankfully unpublished). I've collected up lots of rejection letters and crave still more.
Along the way I have become an omnivorous reader, with the exception of Romance and Action novels; never could get through more than a few of either type. I still love Fantasy and Science Fiction best, but my favorite authors are Jane Austen and Sir Walter Scott. Tolkien only gets the 3rd spot.
Additional influences are Chaucer, Froissart, Defoe, Adam Smith, Dugald Stewart, Marcus Aurelius, Herodotus, Dickens, Robert Louis Stevenson, Victor David Hanson, Frances Hutcheson, David Eddings, David Weber, Alexandre Dumas, Steven Brust, Montaigne, Terry Brooks, Katherine Kurtz, Elizabeth Scarborough, Byron Preiss & Michael Reaves (hey, I was only 12), Mercedes Lackey, James Schmitz, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Robert Howard, Roger Zelazney, H. Beam Piper, Larry Niven, Robert Heinlein, Robert Silverberg, Edgar Allen Poe, Lovecraft, and Gary Gygax.
I am not a constant rewriter; one of my books is in it's 12th rewrite, but most have only been rewritten once, and some haven't been rewritten at all. The one novel I published online was written as a serial, and each week I had to have 2 chapters ready for publication. Most of them were scarcely past the first draft when I shot them out into the world, and after rereading them all recently I was so surprised at their quality that I banged them into a more novel-like format and sent the result off to a slush pile, trusting that the cream will rise...someday.