His despair is only part of his artistic journey. When researching Poe last year, I was surprised to come across an anecdote about him playing leap-frog with his wife and splitting his pants, causing both of them to collapse in fits of laughter. I’m sure it was the memory of joyful moments like this that haunted him as she lay dying and long after she was dead.
It turned out Poe was not a mysterious, mad genius. He was actually a lot like my writer-friends, with whom I constantly exchange emails bitching about the perversities of our trade—the struggle to break in, the late and sometimes nonexistent payments, the occasional stolen pitch. In short, I realized that Poe was, for a good portion of his career, a broke-ass freelancer. Also, that our much-vaunted gig economy isn’t the new development it’s so often taken to be. —The Millions