If you're a freelance writer, graphic designer, pimp, whatever, perhaps the two most depressing essays you will read this month are to be found in Keith Gessen and Benjamin Kunkel's bi-yearly literary digest n+1. The first is Philip Connors' terrific piece about his dreary life as a low-level copywriter and stringer for the Wall Street Journal called My Life and Times in American Journalism. Dig the title - it has that portentous tang of the sweeping multi-decade biography of some grand old intrepid man, like Mencken or Henry Grunwald. Believe me, it isn't even close to that, but it's very funny and very sad. Not sad-tragic, sad-pathetic....at least until 9/11 happens, and then it turns very sad indeed.
The other piece is Gessen's essay on writers and money. Unfortunately, I can't link you to the essays in toto - you'll have to shell out 11.95 to buy the magazine. But for anyone who has snagged a tidy writer's fee from a glossy magazine, only to find yourself parting with it due to some unforeseen fractured wrist, dog-related emergency or some such, cringes aplenty are to be had upon reading this thing.