So far we have
*religious education (rejected)
*academic family, with easy access to books and libraries, encouragement
*intense periods of self-directed study
*languages & study abroad
My dad wanted me to go into classics, I'm not sure why, but I always wanted to study modern literature. I am also interested in other periods, so I could have done medieval or baroque (though not 18th or 19th century).
My writing of poetry was also formative, but at a certain point I came to an impasse. A lot of poets did not seem smart enough, frankly. Of course there are poetic geniuses, like Claudio R. or Lorca, but a poet seemed to have to rely too much on pure ego. If you are poet, but you aren't actually a good one, then you are really more of an arch-enemy of poetry, so that seems a contradictory kind of existence. I wanted to write the poetry I wrote, but without making my professional identity dependent on that in the least, or even less have my ego depend on how talented I was (or not). My strictly amateur approach does not mean I write bad poetry, or don't take it seriously, but that I have enough respect for it not to make any claims for myself.
Next: the dissertation.