The person(s) most influential on my early writing career:
I've met a lot of them. Some of them were probably spot-on about my questionable talent. A few were just assholes. Most likely didn't care enough have a thoughtful opinion. "Can't" is easier than "can." "No" is more convenient than "yes."
Alas, I'm stubborn. I was raised by an awesome family who said I could achieve anything I set my mind to.
Nannynannybooboo. Sticks & stones. I'm not giving up.
All I needed was a clue. I'd happily work to earn success. I would learn. I would improve. I would do what it took to get what I wanted. Still will. Still do.
Somehow, I'd managed to get a degree in English Writing without learning a damn thing about the publishing process. (This was in the days long before the Internet and Self-Publishing. Back when personal computing was breaking into the mainstream.) Query letters? Synopses? Pitches and hooks? I didn't get those answers until I joined Romance Writers of America (RWA). Gods bless 'em, they were the only group who accepted unpublished, utterly clueless aspiring authors into their ranks. They gave me the information I desperately needed, supplied avenues for networking, and set me on a path of continual learning to improve my craft.
It's been a while since I've penned a romance, but the generosity of the Romance community is something I still hold very dear.
Hat tip to the naysayers. They'll always be there. Pushing me to be better. Ensuring I enjoy every moment of proving them wrong.