Welcome!

Welcome to my blog! I hope that you will find items of interest here. Maybe some words of comfort or some words of challenge. Who knows what will come! But, let first things be first.
My name is Mark Dickinson. I am an ordained pastor in the Evangelical Presbyterian Church (EPC), a husband (1), a father (2), a grandfather (2+), a pastor, a musician (clarinet and guitar), and a budding writer (science fiction and mystery). I live in a very comfortable small southern town in South Carolina (USA) and have two brothers who live far north of me.
My father was an immigrant from Canada (that was a thing in 1946) and my mother was a native of Philadelphia (PA, USA), where they met. Besides the Palmetto State, I’ve lived in New York, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina.
I hope I have the opportunity to virtually meet some of you as we go through these posts. But whether we do or not, all I ask is that you be courteous to others whom you may bump into around here. To quote a dubious House-of-Mouse production: “We’re all in this together.”

WordPress wants me to tell you why I started this blog. Well, One reason is to keep the practice of writing. I enjoy communicating in the written word and a blog seems like the best and most effective means to do that. I am also trying out some ideas and looking forward to what might get ‘traction’ in the “blog-iverse.” Something that I could use to turn into a larger work, either fiction or non-fiction.

About the name, “CrossPurposes.” A few years ago, I attempted to start a blog while still in Seminary – mistake! However, I still like the idea. That blog was supposed to focus on the intersection of music and God, a subject that still intrigues me. I will touch on that here from time to time but will open it up to the arts in general. There is much ground to till in that area.

The other reason for the name comes from my desire to write fiction and my calling to preach the Gospel. Those may be seen by some to be at “cross purposes.” I only need point you to Tolkien or Lewis to show you that that is not the case. Still, I liked the pun!

Right now, that is pretty much it. Other reasons may “come to the for” as I work through it. But, for the time being, that should suffice.

Happy Reading! -Mark

By the way: a gold star to anyone who can identify the selection of music for winds that “come to the for” is used in as a direction of dynamics and balance!

My Journey as an Author, Pt. 1

We have all heard of the perfect storm – that set of circumstances that align to create either a cataclysmic event or a miraculous blessing. So it has been with my attempt at writing. I have been the recipient of a perfect storm of advice!

The thought of writing fiction first came to me as a story concept, an idea that I felt could be beneficial to those who might read it. As this idea bounced around in my head, NANO 2016 arrived. For the uninitiated, NANO is an acceptable moniker for National Novel Writing Month, also known as NanoWrimo (More information is available here). So, off I ran to write my first 50,000 words! 30,000 words later, I was looking at a categorical mess.

Authors divide themselves into two broad categories when it comes to the writing process: Plotters and Pantsers. Plotters plan everything out before they start. They outline their plot, prepare their characters, develop their locations, etc. Pantsers? Well, they write by the seat of their pants. A blank page is simply an empty canvas and off they go.

I thought I had planned the story, but I hadn’t. The deeper I got, the more of a mess I had on my hands. So, I did what any over-educated person would do, I went in search of help and I found plenty.

It was very similar to what a person might find if they were examining Christianity without ever having been inside a church. A mind-numbing amount of information was available. But what was ‘good’ and what was ‘bad’? What is the ‘right way’ to do this writing thing?

After months of reading, listening, and watching, I have come to the conclusion that there is no ‘right way’. There is only the way that works for the individual author. So, I was forced to ask myself: What was MY right way?

That question is still open. In fact, many of the professionals I’ve read and listened to feel the same, which was a great comfort. But here is what I’ve learned thus far.

PLOTTING – I’m much more of a plotter than a pantser. But I have come to see the value in simply writing for writing’s sake. It keeps the mind sharp and the story fresh and open.

NANOWRIMO – Thirty days of writing does not create a novel! It was certainly challenging but the best part was the ability to make writing friends within my local community. We still get together to write and share. We even do that virtually, which is great for those who can’t be in the moment.

WRITING vs. EDITING – I have found that I read backwards too much. That might sound odd for a non-writer, but what it means is that I find myself rereading what I just wrote and correcting spelling and grammar whenever I pause. This habit causes me to slow down the process. I’m training myself to not edit until I’ve written a larger chunk than just one sentence. For example, I just paused and found three errors in the above paragraph. I think I’ll fix them now…there.

Anyway, that is what I’ve come to for now. For those who care, the novel is in the science fiction genre and I hope to have the first draft done by August of 2017. Keep me accountable!

Blessings – M