Talent comes in all types of different packages. There is no one ideal way to exist as a writer, and everyone puts their own stamp on the process. Edgar’s stamp was a tad on the grim side, but his works have survived the test of time (a lot better than he did).
Poe was making his living as a writer (almost) during an era in America when making a living as a writer was almost unheard of. He experienced more than his share of misery and poverty, and his emotional problems, gambling debts, alcohol abuse, failed relationships, irrational rages and offensive personality all contributed to making his life a living hell for much of his brief 40 years on the planet.
Despite the many real nightmares that Poe confronted during his relatively short life, he remained quite a productive writer who left behind a phenomenal literary legacy that continues to influence literature, the cinema and other arts globally. Would he have been less of a genius if his life was less of a train wreck? More of a genius? Whose to say?
One of the positive messages I take from Poe’s pitiful life story is that the drive toward written expression can push through even during the most dire circumstances. If Poe could accomplish what he did with the kind of handicaps he was shackled with, then maybe lots of us with lesser problems can put pen to paper as well, even if conditions are less than ideal.
Shall I delay my written dream? Quoth the raven, “Nevermore.”