Midnight Disease


Alice Flaherty couldn’t stop writing. Following the deaths of her premature twin boys, the Harvard Medical School neurologist fell into a hole of grief. But after about 10 days, she awoke one morning with an overwhelming desire to put everything on her mind on paper.

"I was flooded with ideas that I had to write about immediately," she recalls. "I couldn’t do anything else for four months."

A year later, the whole sequence repeated itself. Flaherty gave birth prematurely to twin girls. Fortunately, they survived. And again, 10 days after their birth, she was hit with an irresistible urge to write about all the things piling up in her brain. She took medications to slow down, but nothing could stem the urge to pen.

"I still write much more than I did before my pregnancies," Flaherty says. She has published two books, a third is in press, and she has begun a fourth.

The second book, titled "The Midnight Disease" (Houghton Mifflin, 2004), tries to make sense of it all. Depending on how you look at it, the "disease" could be either writing or writer’s block. In one case, you can’t stop, in the other you can’t start.

"The brains behind writer’s block"
By William J. Cromie
Harvard News Office
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3 thoughts on “Midnight Disease

  1. Interesting. In the book Wonder Boys, Michael Chabon’s main character (and a few other characters) has the midnight disease, both in name and in the description given above. I honestly thought it was something he came up with. I’ll have to give Flaherty’s book a read to see how closely they match up.

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