It must've been 15 years ago, at this point. I had just finished a camping weekend with my friend Nick and a couple of other guys, and we retreated back to Nick's family's upstate bungalow. (Why they always called it a bungalow and never a house still eludes me.) I took it upon myself to cook breakfast for the guys because, A) I was hungry and B) I wanted edible food and I just didn't trust any of them to make a breakfast that was more than fast or broken.
So I set to work making pancakes, scrambled eggs, and bacon. Easy enough. But I'm very good at breakfast. Almost as good as I am on the grill. Anyway, Nick asked me what I was cooking. I said "Relax, buddy. I'm a professional." He then asked me, "Has anyone ever paid you to cook?" I shook my head. He told me "Then you're not a professional. You're a talented amateur. And I'll reserve the 'talented' until after I've tasted your bacon."
No, not a gay weekend at all.
But he was right. Until you've been paid to do a service, you can't claim to be a pro. And, as of yesterdays mail, which included a sparkly check from DC Comics, I'm a professional comic book writer.
That sound you hear is a very muffled victory dance.