Interview with Janna Malamud Smith on CarolineLeavittville

Excerpt: “Why call art an errand? Can you talk about that? Actually, it’s not simply an errand, but an absorbing errand. isn’t that a great phrase? It’s from an early Henry James novel. Here’s the quotation: “True happiness, we are told, consists in getting out of one’s self, but the point is not only to get out – you must stay out and to stay out you must have some absorbing errand”  In my book I suggest  that life is more meaningful for many of us when we pursue an absorbing errand – like writing, painting, playing an instrument, or mastering some complex craft; and I explore the emotions that interfere with people’s ability to stay with the process long enough to get good at what they do. While we think of art making as introspective, and it certainly is, it also pulls us outside ourselves toward the world. It gives us a way to possess the world – thus it becomes an absorbing errand.” For the full interview, click...

Review of An Absorbing Errand on Psychology Today

Excerpt: “What I like about Smith’s book is that her ideas and suggestions are placed in context, using analogies from common activities in our lives. We are not told to stick to our art or craft by “just doing it.” Rather, we are shown how she pursues her own art—writing—as well as how she feels when she is doing it, how artists and craftsmen of all kinds create and achieve mastery, and how various writers and psychologists describe what’s happening when such effort is being made.” For the full review, click...

Q&A With Writer Janna Malamud Smith on W³ Sidecar

Excerpt: 1. Why do words matter? Words matter to me because they let me get my mind around – and then communicate to others – feelings, thoughts, images, and scenes that otherwise would stay inchoate; and few things in life seem quite so urgent or compelling to me as this process of naming and saying. I’m a psychotherapist as well as a writer, and I have witnessed how when people find ways to attach words to their most private and painful experiences, they stop feeling so alone and desperate. Without words, how would we have any chance of understanding another person’s perspective? But don’t take my word for the value of words. Just reread this first stanza of Wallace Stevens’ Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird. Spare, yet powerful; conveying a moment that would otherwise be incommunicable: Among twenty snowy mountains, The only moving thing Was the eye of the blackbird. To read the full Q&A session, click here: w3sidecar.tumblr.com...