Friday, August 9, 2013

The Midnight Disease

The Midnight Disease by Alice Flaherty is a thoughtful and creative insight into what makes the writer's creative mind tick. Quite literally. While I am not quite finished reading, it is offering me a great deal of understanding.

Flaherty begins by explaining the brain, as it relates to creativity and writing. She delves into a condition known as hypergraphia, the intense urge to write. Hypergraphia is not really its own disorder, but it is closely linked to epilepsy, bipolar disorder, and other conditions that affect the temporal lobe of the brain. Flaherty goes into great detail on the brain, cortex, and various lobes, which I can hardly recap here. But suffice it to say that a great deal of scientific thought and study went into the writing of this book. After discussing the hypergraphic among us, Flaherty moves on to talk about writer's block. First the social concepts of block, and then the potentially chemical brain state explanations of block. Throughout the book she also tells us bits and pieces of her own story, her experience with loss, depression, hypergraphic states, and writer's block. She also talks about famous writers throughout history who were prolific and potentially hypergraphic and/or blocked authors. Science weighs heavy in this book, but the personal moments shine, and give the reader a clearer view and understanding of the bigger picture of what Flaherty is trying to say.

I didn't even know hypergraphia existed until I picked up this book.  But surprisingly, or not so really, I found myself among its pages. The overwhelming need to write has colored my life for as long as I can remember. I have had phases where I simply could not write enough times per day, the minute details and feelings of my daily life. Even in times when I wrote less in notebooks, I found an outlet in writing blogs. I have also had severe block that has held me depressively captive, staring at a blank screen for hours.

Overall, the book makes the case the writing, block, and potentially even creativity as a whole are related more deeply than we might guess to the chemicals and states of our brains. It is a fascinating concept, and one which I am intrigued to learn more about... after I sit down to write a bit more.

There is more information and a great interview with Flaherty HERE.

1 comment:

Sue Heavenrich said...

thinking it is a gift, not a "disease"... and wondering why anything that deviates from the "norm" has to be medicalized?