I published my first short story when I was 39, and my first novel when I was 45. I would never have been able to write what I wrote without the life experiences that forty-five years had given me.
Comparing and being jealous of other writer's success doesn’t do anyone any good. Sometimes, someone gets a publishing contract and you don’t because maybe they are a hot button topic issue. Or your book just didn’t hit the market they want at that time. It’s a crazy business, unpredictable, and if you get lost in the comparison game you are doing a disservice to your writing.
I started doing school visits, and I think that’s when the feeling of being an author became real. When young students come up to you, tell you they loved your book and would you sign your autograph on a scrap of paper made it seem real. Someone wanted my autograph???