I’m on holiday (=recharging) …; using An Absorbing Errand  by Janna Malamud Smith as a guide back into the world of creativity.

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.

Henry James
from the novel Roderick Hudson

In An Absorbing Errand the writer and psychotherapist Malamud Smith examines the psychological obstacles that prevent people from staying with, and relishing, the process of art-making.

Each chapter of the book is devoted to a problem intrinsic to the creative process. Chapter 2 is simply called FEARS. Malamud Smith writes:

Every strong desire breads the fear that it may fail of accomplishment. Inhibiting fears often appear in guises; they mask themselves, and so you don’t think: I’M TERRIFIED OF FAILURE, you think:

– I’d rather go for a walk


– I don’t know what made me think I wanted to do this. How silly!


– I doubt I can do it …


The solution is not to push the fears away – pushing worries and fears takes a lot of energy; exactly THE energy you need to create. But when we let ourselves know and name our real apprehensions, their power tends to diminish: and we can focus more on our work.


Anxiety in a creative task might also be a sign that will and control are giving way to something fresh & original.



12 Comments Add yours

  1. Rio says:

    Zazen everyday. No matter what. Same time anywhere. 5, then 10, then 25, 30 minutes. Thoughts: “Not now, not now, not now!” “Now! Now! NOW!” “NOT NOW, NOT NOW, not now”…

  2. Harold Rhenisch says:

    Beautifully said. There are times at which one is falling between worlds, with no shore, when one is water; one can trust the moment and allow oneself to be caught, knowing that the old world, and the self that went with it, is gone, but there are new harbours, and new selves waiting to lead you to the ouzeria, and they put food and bread in front of you, and wine, some black olives, and someone starts to dance…and look at that, the sneak! He only has one eye, and what are those two black birds doing tending bar, and … on and on we go.

  3. Oh Sigrun, did you compose this for me? I am in the throes of my Armenia project taking shape, literally, the promise of it really happening-which is thrilling and terrifying. And the fears that have lifted their howls this week have really shaken me. These words are milk for my soul. Thank you! xoS

    1. Sigrun says:

      so glad you liked it! and the best of luck with your wonderful Armenia-project!

  4. Stefanie says:

    Yay for recharging holidays!

  5. cynthia says:

    Just ordered a copy–enjoy your recharge : )

    1. Sigrun says:

      Love to hear your thoughts on the text, Cynthia! I have rarely read a book that captures and discuss the writing life better than this.

  6. purehaiku says:

    interesting book – will have to download it. enjoy your recharging time! xxx

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.