I wasn't encouraged to write in high school. Why would I have been, when there were so many other amazing students who stood out far more than I ever could? I didn't take a single writing class until college, and that was a journalism class my third/final year. I was so incensed over another class that I wrote an op-ed (my first) and it was published in the San Francisco Chronicle, and then again later in a text book. It was the first thing I ever published, and it was the push that got me going in the right direction.
Later, after I wrote that first terrible novel, I took a travel writing class and was encouraged by the professor to submit my story for publication. Then there was the author who sent my book to her agent (who in turn said, "You will be published." Maybe she was just being nice, but I believed her). There was the fabulous rejection letter I received on my last novel, which I printed out and highlighted for when things got really bad, and the feedback from my awesome CP, Cara, which has made me believe in this novel far more than I ever did before.
I know it's important to believe in myself. And I do. But without those extra boosts from the friends and mentors I've met along the way, I don't know if I'd still be following this crazy path. What's kept you going (in writing or whatever dream you're pursuing)?