Janna Malamud Smith is a writer and a psychotherapist. She has lectured widely and has published nationally and internationally in newspapers, magazines, and journals. Her first two books, Private Matters (Addison Wesley, 1997) and A Potent Spell (Houghton Mifflin, 2003), were both chosen as “Notable Books” by The New York Times Sunday Book Review. Her third, My Father Is a Book (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2006), was selected as a Washington Post Best Book of the Year, and a New York Times Editor’s Choice. Her fourth book, An Absorbing Errand: How Artists and Craftsmen Make Their Way to Master, will be released in September 2012 (Counterpoint). Her essay in this issue of VQR is adapted from An Absorbing Errand.