Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Breaking Bones for Laughs



On this I 8 Wednesday, I intend to explore the mystery behind dedication. The other night my husband and I caught some of a documentary on comedians through the ages. One sentence jumped out at me. A silent-film, slapstick comedian (Jack Benny, I believe it was, but don’t quote me on this) claimed to have broken every bone in his body while at work.


Now that’s what I call dedication. It made me think about our culture and whether that spirit of hard work and sheer persistence exists anymore.


And then I thought…maybe that’s a good thing. Is there such a thing as overly dedicated?


So I started asking myself questions and as you well know if you’ve visited here more than, say, once, I’m about to turn those questions back on you…


Here are eight questions to ponder about dedication:


  1. Do you have more respect for others if there’s a cost accrued with their dedication?


  2. As writers, we’re often yammering about retreating into our caves and putting our noses to the grindstone, as well as other similar unappealing descriptors for how we go about our work. Do you ever feel pressured to construct a battle-charge answer for how things are going? (Are you afraid if you’re having fun, it means you’re not working hard enough?)

  3. If writing comes naturally to someone, do you automatically assume they aren’t working as diligently to hone their craft as one who devotes large quantities of time soaking up how to improve?

  4. What causes you to lose your commitment to dedication?


  5. Are you secretly proud sharing all you’ve had to sacrifice in your current field in order to gain strides (i.e. loss of time with family, abstaining from TV or girls night out)?


  6. How would you define dedication?


  7. Do the ends justify the means when it comes to all you’re pouring in?


  8. What would motivate you to become so dedicated to something you’d actually break every bone in your body?

Answer any or all of the above. I might do an I 8 Wed. break-out for these like I’ve done in the past. I’m playing with that idea.


*I also read somewhere Jackie Chan has broken more bones than his age. Don’t know if this is true either, but I’ve seen some of his movies and I’d bet on it.
**photo by flickr



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17 comments:

  1. love, love, love this topic! To be dedicated, in my opinion, is to work at something without giving up until that task is accomplished. Some tasks (Like my faith in God) is constant, so it required constant dedication. The only thing that causes me to lose my commitment to dedication is my own internal drive. I think that i am very dedicated to my job: i go the extra mile, i would sacrifice my time if it meant that my clients benefit from it. I too have been wondering if there is such a thing as being over-dedicated (or over-achiever as i like to say it)
    Thanks for the questions! It's worth some serious thought!

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  2. Do you have more respect for others if there’s a cost accrued with their dedication?
    Yes...is that bad?

    As writers, we’re often yammering about retreating into our caves and putting our noses to the grindstone, as well as other similar unappealing descriptors for how we go about our work. Do you ever feel pressured to construct a battle-charge answer for how things are going? (Are you afraid if you’re having fun, it means you’re not working hard enough?)
    No! I'm afraid of not having fun. I'm afraid of working so hard and missing the point that this is supposed to BE fun.

    If writing comes naturally to someone, do you automatically assume they aren’t working as diligently to hone their craft as one who devotes large quantities of time soaking up how to improve?
    Nope. But I do think, even if it comes naturally, we all should be connoisseurs of learning.

    What causes you to lose your commitment to dedication?
    When I lose sight of my priorities. Yes, writing is a huge priority. But not before my God and my family. Sometimes, I make it more important than it should be. Okay....lots of times.

    Are you secretly proud sharing all you’ve had to sacrifice in your current field in order to gain strides (i.e. loss of time with family, abstaining from TV or girls night out)?
    Hmmm.....I'd have to dig deep into my psyche to figure that one out. Perhaps I am. There could be a hint of pride in there. But mainly, I'm nervous sharing this with others, because a lot of people don't understand the idea of sacrificing these things for writing.

    How would you define dedication?
    Unwavering commitment - when it's easy and when it's tough and when it's somewhere in between. I am dedicated to my marriage. I am dedicated to my writing.

    Do the ends justify the means when it comes to all you’re pouring in?


    What would motivate you to become so dedicated to something you’d actually break every bone in your body?

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  3. oops - I missed the last two questions!

    Do the ends justify the means when it comes to all you’re pouring in?
    It depends what the means are. If I'm neglecting my marriage and my son and my time with God....then no.

    What would motivate you to become so dedicated to something you’d actually break every bone in your body?
    Um.....hmmm. I'm not a fan of physical pain.

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  4. 2.As writers, we’re often yammering about retreating into our caves and putting our noses to the grindstone, as well as other similar unappealing descriptors for how we go about our work. Do you ever feel pressured to construct a battle-charge answer for how things are going? (Are you afraid if you’re having fun, it means you’re not working hard enough?)


    This question always intrigues me. I have fun writing. I don't necessarily have fun at my day job. And although I look forward to every minute I get to sit down and write, it still feels like work. And I love it. How's that for a scattered answer?

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  5. Number two definitely gets me. Writing has felt a little more like pulling teeth the last couple weeks, but I'm chocking it up to a crazy schedule and lack of time to focus. When I can really sit down and spend some devoted time, it flows. Great questions, Wendy!

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  6. 8. I think eternal things make people do crazy things like die or suffer. Purpose in all of this is so necessary because it is such a long hard road!

    Great discussion Wendy.

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  7. In thinking about question #1, I definitely apply this with my children. If whatever they are "dedicated" to at the moment costs them something, I respect it as true dedication rather than another childish whim.

    As for me, unfortunately I often fall into the #5 category of being secretly proud of the sacrifices I've made to be dedicated--whether as a mother, a wife, a friend or a writer. Not really a good thing. Learning to let Jesus alone applaud those sacrifices instead of seeking that from others.

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  8. 1. Yes. If there's no cost, it's not dedication.

    3. I'm most likely to lose my dedication if I start thinking about the mountainous size of the task ahead of me. As I'm tempted to do this morning. I have to take it one day at a time, sometimes one hour at a time.

    5. No, pride in sacrifice is not my weakness. Instead, I'm more likely to get rebellious and question the sacrifices I have to make. That's something I have to let go--I think it stems in part from what Katie's talking about--the general lack of understanding of the writing profession and how it's very rare for people to 'get' what the average day is like when you're writing a novel--especially when you're writing a novel under deadline. That's why I'm so grateful for my writer friends.

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  9. Question #2 snagged my thoughts.

    I was raised in a very strict church where if you were serving God and it didn't hurt and make you miserable, you weren't doing it right, you weren't sacrificing enough.

    I really struggled a few years ago with writing and being called to write. Could I possibly be serving God AND find it not only enjoyable but soul filling? Or was I just indulging myself in something I enjoyed and calling it God-service to get people off my back.

    Imagine my joy when God showed me through His Word and His people that He would and does call people to serve Him using their talents, gifts, and desires.

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    ReplyDelete
  11. Thought-provoking questions, Wendy, but, then, those are your trademark. =)

    I'll respond to #1. Do you have more respect for others if there’s a cost accrued with their dedication?

    Yes. When things come easily for someone and are tough for another, I afford the latter more respect because of the challenges they faced and overcame.

    For example, Thomas Kincade is a famous artist, but he has no physical limitations that I know of. However, Joni Eareckson Tada is a quadriplegic who has to paint holding her brush between her teeth. I respect her dedication to her craft immensely.

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  12. Dedication can easily become martyrdom once pride gets involved. (#5)

    Balance, balance -- hard to find, but it's the key. And keeping our eyes on Him, not us and our work. Good things to think about, Wendy. (I liked you -- come see my Author FB page!)

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  13. KC, You're not kidding about faith needing constant dedication. Powerful thought. And thanks for the positive words about the post.

    Katie, I loved how much thought you put into your answers--more than I did even asking them. ;) And I'm glad you like to have fun and no, I don't consider an answer to #1 bad. I just think all of our answers to each question can reveal a lot about us. Not a fan of physical pain here either (even though it hangs around in my name).

    Heather, I think it's cool you love it and I'm attracted to your positive attitude about it. Those are the coolest people to be around, the ones that can making mud pies fun!

    Sarah, What a great point. Sometimes I skip it when my time is too crunched. I get too much junk in those sittings and it's almost worth it to sit & write 3K another day than to eek out less than 500 butt ugly words.

    Jennie, I think you are dead on! So much of it comes back to motivation and purpose.

    Anne, I read a post of yours lately I could so intimately relate to. I need to email you about it but I'm right there w/ you on your second point today, too.

    Rosslyn, Writing friends have changed this whole gig for me. Helped tremendously and as far as your second point it reminds me of your publisher's post recently about worry and creativity being two sides of one coin. I can be way out creative and I can be beastly with worry. It cripples the creative side.

    Erica, I'm excited for that joy and that it was shown to you. It encourages me that you find joy in your work b/c you are a speed queen.

    Pat, Patty, Patrick,
    Here's the thing (if you even come back to read this, which I'm thinking probably not so much) there are great ways to interact online and then there are turn off ways.

    Maybe if you'd written one teeny tiny thing about my post I might have engaged more...but...

    There are so many places to learn about social networking. Hope you bump into them.

    Keli, Joni is a hero. She has such a fresh and valuable way of approaching life. I'm glad you brought her up. She's an excellent example of beautiful dedication.

    Laura, Wow, powerful statement. And I'm off to like you now.

    Thanks for chiming in. Sometimes I wish I had an OFF button for my brain, but I haven't found it yet. Guess that's for when I'm in heaven with no buttons at all.

    Rest well.

    Dedicate wisely.
    ~ Wendy

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  14. Wonderful things to ponder. Yes, I think you can be too dedicated. When ambitions come before people, I'd say you've gone too far. I wouldn't want a job where I was breaking bones either... I've never watched America's Got Talent before, but this summer I caught a few episodes while visiting family and I couldn't believe how people would risk their own lives to get whatever it is you get if you win that show. I think sacrificing life, family, even virtues, just isn't worth it. But working hard, putting in the time toward something you love, standing for what you believe? That's dedication I respect very highly.

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  15. I think DO respect someone who's sacrificed--it seems to prove their dedication.

    Hanging my head in shame that I experience that feeling of pride when I share how much I've given up to have a writing career. Sigh.

    And I'm often jealous of those who don't have to work at it--that seems so unfair.

    Okay, confessing two sins before 8:00 a.m. is enough for me. But thanks for the eye-opener!

    Love you, Jen

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  16. Great questions! I love stories of perseverance and hard work, tempered with a recognition of what's most important.

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  17. I recently heard this thought: Successful people aren't the smartest or prettiest, but rather the ones who are the most faithful at stewarding their gifts.

    It's all about hard work!

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