Because life is a series of edits


In Thought on December 26, 2008 at 10:44 pm

When TwentySomeone was published in 2003, the question everyone kept asking Doug and me was, “So, are you going to write ThirtySomeone?” As we didn’t really know and couldn’t come up with a better answer to give, we sometimes said “maybe,” but more often said, “no.” We wondered if we could write a book that accurately applied to the thirties as we thought (and have since heard) TwentySomeone did.

Maybe because we were on the cusp of our thirties at the time (we were both 32 when TwentySomeone came out), we had convinced ourselves that surely the thirties must veer off into too many different directions to really be able to speak broadly about them.

So we held off. We toyed with a few other projects. We lived life. Sensing the need for new voices of input and more education to pursue a calling of teaching and writing, I (Craig) made a significant life transition, moving my family from our home at the foot of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado Springs to a seminary apartment in St. Louis.

Though Doug didn’t geographically move his tribe from Norman, OK, his roles and responsibilities as an R.U.F. campus pastor continued to evolve and expand, so much so that the ministry he was leading looked very different from when he started, and he had to figure out where he fit into all that.

Our families were growing, our marriages were challenging (mostly because of us and our issues), and we struggled with the idea of making sense of any of it, let alone trying to write a book about it and position ourselves as “experts” of some kind. The timing didn’t seem right and, well, it wasn’t.

But it wasn’t just the timing that was complicated; it was also the subject matter. In our first book, we said the key ques- tion of our twenties was “Who Am I?”; hence the title, TwentySomeone. We wrote about our need to focus on discovering who we are (and not so much worrying about what we do) so as to grow up and into our true identity as children of God.

But life is very different now than it was then. We aren’t in our twenties anymore; in fact, we’ve just entered our forties. What is the key question of our thirties, and what title could we come up with to really capture any of that?

ThirtySomeone just wouldn’t work, not because who we are doesn’t matter now (it does), but for the reason that answering the question has (or should have) implications. We’re still concerned with who we are (and increasingly more so with the matter of Whose we are), but we believe the question of our thirties is Where Is My Place?; hence the (tentative) title, ThirtySomewhere: Pursuing Your Place in a Decade of Expectations.

Here’s the tentative chapter list:

Chapter 1 The Question of Our Thirties
Chapter 2 Welcome to No Man’s Land
Chapter 3 Expectations: Understanding the Real Gap Theory
Chapter 4 Limitations: Embracing Our Humanity
Chapter 5 Baggage: Checking (and Dealing with) Ours
Chapter 6 Intimacy: Continuing the Quest
Chapter 7 Contentment: Resolving to Be Resolved
Chapter 8 Commitments: Making (and Keeping) Them
Chapter 9 Life Structures: Helping the Concrete Harden
Chapter 10 Ambiguity: Losing Balance and Going with the Flow
Chapter 11 Ministry: Stewarding Ourselves for the Sake of Others
Chapter 12 Place: Finding (and Making Ours) One of Grace

The Forties: A Look Ahead
Appendix A Taking the “Crisis” Out of “Mid-Life Crisis”
Appendix B 100 Things to Do in Your Thirties
Appendix C Good Books to Read in Your Thirties

Got any feedback for us? Leave a comment and tell us what you think.

  1. I’m excited to see this book on its way. I really enjoyed your first.

  2. Read this op-ed in the New York Times. Here’s a quote:
    “I’m part of the Peter Pan-ish Gen-X final trickle — and what do we know about growing up? My friends are all broke, say ‘whatever’ too much, still live in Converses and constant hangovers, still yell at their parents on the phone and two seconds later ask for money and possibly a place to crash, are still deferring college loans and say everything is the new something-else, including the 30s, which are the new 20s. The economy is in crisis, and they don’t care; they have become Zen about debt, having been impoverished, if trust-fund-less, since they got out of college at the beginning of the millennium, a time of tragedy and war and turmoil, their entire 20s devoured by someone they refer to only by a twangy iteration of his middle initial.
    But now, as a writer playing Writer more than ever and a woman on the verge of playing House for real, I find myself torn between the decadent counterculture of my 20s and a desire for things ‘properly’ adult. And this is the very no-man’s-land paralysis that [the TV show] ‘Thirtysomething’ was obsessed with, that cold-sweat-panic moment when youthful rebellion runs headlong into the responsibilities, pains and joys of full-blown adulthood.”
    There’s more. Read it and let me know what you think.

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