So I decided to glance at these books again and bring here a few pithy items from each.
Today, from the splendid Callings: Finding and Following an Authentic Life by Gregg Levoy, some quotes and, of course, my comments.
*"Calls are essentially questions....What question were you put here to understand?"
My question is: What is God? This is the subject of all my books.
* "If you were to retell your own life story as a myth....you would become the hero or the heroine, and your earthly struggles, rather than being taken so personally, would become mythic in scope, recast as plot twists in an epic adventure. The calling you seek becomes the treasure, the obstacles to your path become the tests of initiation you must endure, and friends become the hero's guardians. You would see the Big Picture...."
I find this helpful--when I remember to think of it--particularly in dealing with annoyances, setbacks, losses and damages. In fiction, it's the obstacles that make the story.
* Quoting Deena Metzger, "Keep away from saying 'I will do X so that Y will happen,...So that I'll be happy, or make money, or be recognized. Cause-and-effect is the narrowest way of seeing the world....Don't negotiate with the gods. Just offer yourself, 'Thy will be done,' without knowing the outcome."
This is pretty much my approach to writing novels.
* From Bharati Mukherjee, whom I once had the delight of introducing to writing classes at Duke, "Let me treat every moment with reverence...because I don't know what the mission of any of my moments in life is."
I tend to have a clear idea of what I mean to do in a given moment, but Mukherjee reminds me here, via Levoy, that there may be another and grander project I'm working on unwittingly at the same time. For example, I sometimes wonder if the real point of the writing group I've been in for 26 years is the books or the connections between the band of us.