I have slacked off a little this weekend on posting. I was just tired. I am coming up on three years since I re-launched my old writer’s blog as Chickens in the Road and have been reflecting a lot on that lately. CITR is the most exhausting, beloved, overwhelming, passionate thing I’ve ever done. I had no idea when I started it what it might become. I had been writing romance novels for about 15 years. I was never particularly successful as a romance writer, although some people probably thought I was, just because I had a lot of books out. Between 1993 and 2009, I had 26 books published. (The one that was published in 2009, I finished in the spring of 2008, so it’s been a while since I last wrote one. You can see all about my romance novels here. If you want to find one, you can probably find them used on Amazon etc.)
The most I ever made writing romance novels was one year when I made $21,000. Just in case you think romance writers make a lot of money. Most of them DON’T. And I was writing for major publishers, mostly Harlequin. Seriously. Other than that one good year, most years I was lucky to break into five figures. Around $12,000/year became my norm, and only after slogging through the first six or seven years when I never broke into five figures at all. Eventually it seeped into my brain that I was going to starve to death at this rate.
And at the same time, I had moved to West Virginia and become enamored of country life and desperately wanted a farm. This resulted in mortgaging myself to death, amongst other assorted debts to get into this farm and house, and taking the biggest leap of my life in the belief that if I just wrote on my own, instead of for a publisher, and directly to readers, I would be better off. And I could write anything I wanted. Recipes, crafts, animal stories, and so on. I invested everything I had. I had a complete site re-design and started writing my blog the same way I wrote my books, with the same professional attention to detail and my full-time effort. I was making absolutely nothing in the beginning, but I treated it as if it was my job. I had very little money myself, and I had a passion for writing for people with little money either (or at least the desire to be frugal), so I didn’t want to charge my readers a penny to read my work. I discovered advertising to allow me to work full-time writing something readers didn’t have to pay for.
And for two more years, I made no more than my average $12,000/year when I was writing romance novels. And I thought I might starve to death, but I was so much more passionate about writing this site than I ever was about writing romance novels, so I wouldn’t quit. I couldn’t quit. And at least I wasn’t doing worse. There were times the phone rang. Constantly. (Some of you will know what that means.) There were times I cried because I didn’t know how I would get the money for gas to get the kids to the school bus and practices. There were times, quite recently, that I pulled up in front of the bank cash machine and asked for ten dollars and the machine said no. (That is embarrassing when your kids are in the car with you.)
I am a crazy dreamer. But this year, as I come to the end of this year, for the first time, three years later, I will make more this year than I ever made, in my best year, writing romance novels. I have worked 7 days a week, and not cared because I loved it. And I just believed and believed and believed. And you came.
P.S. And maybe next year I can make the phone stop ringing. Because that would be nice.