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Sometimes you just have to leap into the abyss

That’s a leap I have not yet decided to risk.


On Thursday I learned that Amazon is decimating the Associates program and therefore decimating the monthly income of this blog. It may have been inevitable, but nobody saw it coming right now.

You guys jumped in to make sure that February, the last month of the old program, went out with a bang. A thousand thank yous for that.

But that still left me with decisions to make. About this blog. About earning a living. About whether to go ahead with planned projects.


It was easy to decide about planned projects.

Foundation work on the house? Yep, gotta do that. Most of the money is already set aside from last year’s fundraiser and if I don’t fix the foundation now it’s only going to deteriorate and become a bigger problem. Economizer: instead of The Wandering Monk bringing a minion to assist him … I’ll be the minion. Never worked on a foundation before. First time for everything. I do own and know how to operate 20-ton hydraulic jacks, though. And I’m a decent gofer.

Old Blue’s transmission? Nope. I’m doing fine on foot. I’ll keep Old Blue for emergencies. Economizer: No big repair costs, no car insurance, no gas, no little impulse spendings while cruising around town.

Summer icon-painting workshop? Yes. Never mind that in all practical terms it makes no sense. It never did make mundane sense. But this I must do. Commentariat member D. set my foot on the path and J. paved the next steps. I’ll probably sell some unused possessions to finance the rest. Economizer: None. But my spirit will be richer.

Easy decisions all.


The earning a living part? That’s been … revelatory. I’ve thought of everything from setting up a Patreon account for the blog to grading SAT essays online to other affiliate programs besides Amazon, to … well, lots of possibilities. Two friends have offered opportunities.

And although I’ve looked into a few, I’ve had the same strong, visceral reaction to almost everything: NO.


I tell myself be practical. I tell myself thus-and-such suggestion is a good idea. I tell myself be grateful for such good friends. I tell myself idiot, you HAVE to earn a freakin’ living!

My soul screams back at me Noooooooooooooooooo!!! Do NOT go in that direction!

And although the parental voice inside my head admonishes that I must be practical, that I must resist slothfulness (that deadly sin!) … the soul voice cries a clear warning: Do not go that way.

I’ve reacted to several “good” suggestions with such visceral revulsion that I fear friends may have felt I was slapping them in the face.

The truth is that while I could no more stop writing than I could stop breathing and still consider myself alive, it’s time for me to quit trying to earn a living as a writer. Or doing anything else online, networked, outward-focused, news-oriented, or public. For a living.

Right now I’d rather walk down to the local motel and clean toilets than earn my keep in the world of bits and bytes and politics and noise.

But … erm. I’d also rather not clean toilets. So I turn inward seeking alternatives.


Finally, about the blog:

I don’t know. Not wanting to earn a living as a writer for the rest of my days doesn’t mean I don’t want to write (and gratefully accept whatever you choose to send via Amazon commissions, donations, or Cabal memberships).

This blog is not just a way to gather shekels. This blog is my link to you — my community, my friends, my family-from-a-host-of-different-mothers. This blog is important to me and, I hope, useful to you. And fun.

It’s just that Backwoods Home first and Amazon now have informed me it’s a lousy way to earn a living. Even a supplementary living. Even on my smallish scale. And though your generosity has been enormous, I am uncomfortable soliciting it. I don’t want to hold another fundraiser and I don’t intend to do that, barring some serious emergency.

For now, I’ll probably blog a little less, but I’ll postpone any Big Decisions about the blog until at least June. Once I stop thinking of blogging as my work, I’ll see it in a different light. There’s a possibility that I’ve said all I have to say and will want to leave the blog behind. There’s also a possibility that the blog will absorb some new purpose. Also a possibility I’ll blog just for fun. Please be patient.


I don’t believe in gods or goddesses or that literal Fates are weaving away at life. I don’t believe (though I may metaphorically say) that The Universe, in some New Age sense, sends conscious messages.

I do believe that sometimes The Universe (that handy metaphor) delivers messages that heart and soul must heed. In the last year said Universe has been trying valiantly, if often unpleasantly, to tell me something.

My practical side — my brain and all the Protestant and Prussian messages planted in it from birth and through orderly government schooling — has been ignoring that “something.”

A body can go on existing, breathing, and functioning while ignoring Messages from the Gods. But a person risks not really living.

I’ve said before that my biggest mistake at times of major life change is that I’ve failed to go far enough. I’ve always kept some safety valve at hand, always left an escape route from the “impractical” choices I’ve felt called to make, always kept a hand on the practicality lever. Practical, practical, practical. Protestant, Prussian, and prudent.

Not this time.

I don’t know where I’m going. I just know I have to set foot on the path and quit thinking about whether it’s the most sensible route to take.


  1. Ron Johnson
    Ron Johnson February 28, 2017 7:18 am

    It is impossible to know when we’ve exhausted the possibilities of taking a certain path. But we know when we’ve hit our personal limits. When the dream is dead, it’s dead.

    I wish you luck, and clarity, in your next steps.

  2. kentmcmanigal
    kentmcmanigal February 28, 2017 8:41 am

    I can relate. To all of it. I’ll be interested to see where it all takes you.

  3. ellendra
    ellendra February 28, 2017 9:13 am

    When your gut reacts that strongly to something, listen to it. There may come a time when your instincts say to go back to writing, but for now they’re being pretty clear.

    We’re behind you, no matter what you choose.

  4. FishOrMan
    FishOrMan February 28, 2017 9:56 am

    My mom, with connections, got the job of cleaning the office and break area of a construction/trucking business each weekend. The owner of the business couldn’t find anyone reliable who would do a descent job of cleaning, (and being a small town their wasn’t a “professional” local service available). If cleaning supplies are all maintained on site, it just needs to be a place within walking distance for you. Drawback — there was one bathroom.

  5. Comrade X
    Comrade X February 28, 2017 10:25 am

    One thing leads to another but it is all about taking that first step. Methinks however and where ever you put that foot forward it will end up being in the right direction.

  6. Jim B.
    Jim B. February 28, 2017 10:58 am

    You could always try panning for gold. Thar’s gold in them thar hills!

    Seriously, have you try to pick up some technical writing jobs, like you mentioned you did before?

    Don’t worry about the Patreon thing, I view that as more of a tip jar than anything else. After all, if one enjoys a person’s work, then it’s better to throw a few buck toward that person’s way in order to induce more good works in the future.

  7. Laird
    Laird February 28, 2017 10:59 am

    I second what ellendra said. We’re behind you. Best of luck with whatever you decide. And keep in mind that few decisions are permanent; you can usually change your mind if the path seems wrong.

  8. Shel
    Shel February 28, 2017 1:33 pm

    Very glad you’re taking the iconic route. It also makes extremely good sense not to ignore your gut. I’ve ignored mine more than once, with markedly unpleasant results. At least some practicality, though, does seem to have real advantages as long as it doesn’t preclude your following your heart.

  9. coloradohermit
    coloradohermit February 28, 2017 4:03 pm

    As others have said, we are behind you, whatever path you choose.

    One thing that comes to my mind is the calming(to me anyway) effect of knowing there are choices. Whether or not you follow any or all of them, you do have choices. Jobs offered, your artistic talent, your internet skills, your interest in dogs…. Perhaps, with Ava’s permission, you could link up with furrydoc for referrals for dog sitting. Perhaps, with the commentariat’s permission( yeah right like we’d deny you anything) you could get targeted advertisers to help support the blog. Perhaps you could hookup with a shop keeper in the artsy town you mention and sell your art, jewelry, furniture and knitted dragons and cowls while nourishing your artistic spirit. Perhaps you could work sometimes with the wandering Monk on smallish jobs. All the doors seem to be open.

    You are so talented that I believe you’ll be successful at whatever you put your hand to.

  10. Fred
    Fred February 28, 2017 5:08 pm

    Claire,its not up your alley I guess but prayers being sent.Also patreon is supporting video bloggers,give it a shot.Sorry to hear you are being hit.Hope the right gig comes your way very soon.

  11. oooorgle
    oooorgle March 1, 2017 7:10 am

    I appreciate the donations I get on my website… none. it has never been about money. I still work everyday and don’t expect anyone else to pay my rent. It’s about improving my environment and for years I’ve watched sites cut from Google or Amazon being forced to face the reality of what they are doing. If without Amazon you don’t want this site anymore… good riddance, and have a better life moving forward. Best wishes either way.

  12. Claire
    Claire March 1, 2017 7:49 am

    oooorgle — Good attitude as long as you have another job. My job for four decades has been writing.

    I’ve joked that I agree with Samuel Johnson, “No man but a blockhead ever wrote but for money.” But I don’t actually think Johnson even agreed with himself. Writing — when you want to do it — is easy. Writing — when you have to do it — is hard.

    Times have changed and so have the economics of writing and publishing. But that fact remains.

    I love writing and I feel very connected to the readers of this blog. Readers have also sent me a LOT of donations, as well as contributing valuable knowledge and advice. So no matter what Amazon does, I owe a debt to blog supporters. While I can’t promise to blog forever, all of that will be a huge consideration in any decisions I make about blogging.

  13. Claire
    Claire March 1, 2017 7:51 am

    And thank you, one and all. Good thoughts, prayers, vibes, jokes, and whatever you have to offer are all welcome.

    I feel en-light-end today.

  14. Kathy
    Kathy March 1, 2017 1:31 pm

    When I was re-evaluating my life (and we had moved into our camper), I wrote for Crowd Content. I got to choose what I wanted to write, I found my niche (technical not ethereal, ie, steel alloy and construction companies loved my writing) and they pay every week. That was a big thing for me, that payment was consistent. Might check it out and see if it’s a way to make some money.

  15. Claire
    Claire March 1, 2017 3:27 pm

    Kathy — That sounds like a great breakthrough for you. And I really get how a writer who can deal with steel alloys and construction is much in demand.

    I actually came out of a background in corporate communications and advertising and although not formally a tech writer I also was happy (and had happy clients) in “hard” fields. So I do get the niche you’ve carved out for yourself. But I was done with that 20 years ago, just as I feel done with earning my living as a writer now, period.

    I’ve been blessed to have friends laying opportunities before me. But right now, this minute, those opportunities are not for me. It’s time to do something else.

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