I managed to complete a (very bad) novel when I first got out of college, but I didn't know any writers personally, so I didn't think of writing as a career choice. During the time I was building my marriage and my professional career, I dabbled at writing, but managed to stall halfway through a second (almost as bad) book. When I started writing seriously, several years ago, it was different. I had the compulsion to write until I finished not only a whole book, but the next one and the one after that. Computers and word processing made writing easier, it's true, but even with a PC my husband bought in support of my dabbling, I didn't finish that second book for years. Mostly what changed was me. I guess you could say the disease was in remission before, but now it's full blown.
And now I know tons of writers. Some of my best friends are writers. A good part of my social life is going to conventions and interacting with other writers.
Partly that's just because there are now so damn many of us! I wonder if you were to stop a random 100 people in the street how many would say they are or want to be writers? I suppose that depends largely on where the street is. In New York City you'd probably get a much higher percentage than in say, Peoria, Illinois. But even in Peoria, I'll bet there were would be at least a half a dozen.