The work of Mike Varley

The Mike Varley Plain Dealer: The “What Inspires You?” Lecture

October 8th, 2010 by admin

Dear friends and all,
Is there a use to holiness in this modern world?  If we can push enough of our animal buttons to be amped 85% of the time, isn’t that enough?  Do we really need a soul after all?  It won’t change my miles-per-gallon.  I ask this genuinely: do we need a heart to go with our head?  I assume the aching would feel natural after a few generations. 
Is there a more abrasive word than religion these days, and is spirituality to die with it?  Why does molestation now rhyme with priest?  I want my sacred leaders back.  The moneylenders have stolen the vestments and speak the rites with perfect diction. 
The freedom of restriction is rich with tradition yet nobody seems the least curious.  Doesn’t that strike you as god?  To only on holy roads trod?  Building boulders so pretentious that you yourself can’t lift them – at least that’s how they’d frame it on the website formed to mock you.  But those shrines to your weakness were only meant to teach us that such logic traps can only snare dirt eaters.
The path to the truth intersects our lives daily, yet nobody seems apt to choose it.  I’m not saying we haven’t got time, but how many times must we lose it?
“What Inspires You?” is a survey lecture on writing I prepared in August 2010 for an appearance at the Harborfields Public Library in Greenlawn, NY.  The title was not chosen by me, but the more I read it the more I favored its meaning.  During the lecture, I encouraged questions from the audience both to nurture their interests and challenge me to make new connections.  In both these aims, I believe the lecture was successful.
The lecture runs about 80 minutes, broken up into 15 different tracks.  The subjects are as follows.  Go to the “What Inspires You?” page for the corresponding Youtube videos:
01.  An Introduction
02.  The Forms: Short Story
03.  The Novel
04.  Poetry
05.  Screenplay
06.  The Artist Statement
07.  First-Person Perspective
08.  Third-Person Perspective, Limited and Omniscient
09.  Second-Person Perspective
10.  Perspective Comparison
11.  Fiction vs. Non-Fiction
12.  Structure: The Whittler and The Woodworker, The Chessmaster and the Child
13.  Style, Austin, TX on Publishing and more Style
14.  Revision
15.  Touchdown: A Poem
You can also download mp3 versions of the lecture and a pdf of the lecture notes at the “What Inspires You?” page.
Thanks for listening.  Until next time, take care.
Mike Varley

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