Well, I have it. Finish Line Adjustment Disorder, or FLAD, if you will. With four novels under my belt, I now recognize the early stages of the disorder. It starts the moment I see THE END looming and leads to a general inability to focus on anything having to do with real life. I become a stranger to my family, my coworkers, and my community. Dinner? Clean clothes? Meetings? Housecleaning? Pfft. How am I supposed to do all that and recover my loved ones from that Delaware devil, Captain Jacobs?

While most of the FLAD-afflicted grapple with extreme obsession, some poor bastards face unrelenting avoidance. In stark contrast to the preoccupied, these dodgers live in immaculate houses and drive shiny cars. Their cups line up in spotless cupboards beside alphabetized tins. They launder clothes on the hour, then clean the dryer’s vent holes with Q-tips. They volunteer for every activity at school, church, and work. They take two-hour naps, Tweet, and complain on Facebook about not having time to write. In short, the writers with this form of FLAD will do anything to get out of finishing their novels.

Because FLAD presents itself in several ways, an inordinately high percentage of writers are simply misdiagnosed as addle-brained, OCD, lazy, or clean freaks, leading to ineffective (but tasty) self-medication with booze and chocolate.


An afflicted writer basks in the sun.

Though we are light-years away from a cure, studies prove that finishing a novel can afford a period of peace and a return to clean underpants. Unfortunately, for the seriously afflicted, reinfection by way of a new idea often occurs within minutes of typing THE END.

I have about 5,000 words to go. Send rum. And those little truffle things with the hazelnuts inside.

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