Writers don’t write because they have to, [Margaret] Atwood went on during a student seminar at the Kenyon Review Literary Festival. There’s no gun to the writer’s head, “and by the way, there’s no pension plan.”
There are four ways to write, according to Atwood. You can write a good book that makes money, a good book that doesn’t make money, a bad book that makes money, or a bad book that makes no money. She advised students to aim for the first, or at least the second. Obviously she is in the first category. However, she began writing recreationally (”I had no idea I’d make any money at it”) and, after failing to become a romance novel writer, she became a journalist.
Since it's a common assumption that romance novelists lack the talent or experience to write "real" books, I have to wonder about Ms. Atwood's former ambitions. Did she truly want to write romance, or did she just believe that romance was the quickest and easiest path to publication? I suspect the latter, because I've heard many unpublished writers say exactly that. They aspire to "break into" romance and then go on to write other things.
Writing romance isn't easy. If you think it looks easy, perhaps that's because you've been reading romance novels by some very talented authors.