As anyone who reads this blog regularly has already figured out, I lead many lives. My paying career was as a scientist, originally in marine biology (until my lab burned to the ground), then in a series of consulting firms. On the side, I’ve been a lifetime Abraham Lincoln aficionado. Several years ago I decided to resign from my consulting job and pursue a life of traveling and writing. It’s a decision I’ve never regretted.
Since then I’ve traveled to many countries (I’ve recently tallied about 50 nations and 50 aquariums), written three books (plus two e-books), and taken leadership roles in various Abraham Lincoln groups.
Herein lies the problem.
As I wrote back in June, I sometimes feel stretched thin and lost. After touching seven countries in 12 days I arrived home in the wee hours of Sunday morning and have spent a week running errands, catching up on emails (I was without internet for most of that 12 days), and juggling all of the various lives I have on my plate. And today I’m desperately, and completely, reworking my planned road trip to the Land of Lincoln because I can’t possible get to all the places I had lined up before a scheduled event further north on Friday. Now it seems I’m bypassing a half-dozen stops to get to the event on time, then backtracking south to fill in the gaps. My anticipated 2000 miles is likely going to be 2500 miles or more of driving. Assuming, of course, I don’t change the route several more times while I’m on the road.
Now it seems I may not be doing enough. I was chatting with a friend in the marketing industry recently who suggested a list of things I should do to become “like Kylie Jenner.” After clarifying this did not include getting butt implants, the idea of promoting myself more broadly had merit. Better known = more people learn from me and my books.
I have had my share of publicity. C-SPAN aired a talk I gave on my Lincoln book earlier this year. I was recently broadcast live on Facebook by renowned interviewer and Coffee Party founder, Annabel Park, plus just last week met the famed Diane Rehm, who has a podcast now that she’s retired from her long-running program on NPR. A few months ago I was interviewed by The Railsplitter Podcast, an Abraham Lincoln oriented program. My Lincoln book has been nominated for book awards and was selected as educational material for the LEAD Lincoln Youth Leadership program in Illinois. My Lincoln book was reviewed in the preeminent magazine, Civil War Times. Last fall I was interviewed for The Lincolnian newsletter. All of these are good publicity. My friend thinks I need to do more.
That takes time. Time not writing.
Which gets me back to juggling my lives. I travel, and I’m writing about my travel. I’m a scientist, and I write about science. I have responsibilities in several Lincoln groups, so I’m constantly reading, writing, organizing, scheduling, and leading a dozen Lincoln activities at any given time. All of this is time not writing.
I’m about to get even busier.
Starting with the trip I just finished (and continuing with the trip I’m about to take), this next 12 months is jam-packed with travel. There will be domestic road trips, foreign cruises, foreign road trips, and possibly an eighth continent (or seventh, depending on how you count). In addition, tomorrow my Abraham Lincoln workload increases as I finish up one set of duties but take on many more. I’m way behind on my science communication activities, as anyone who reads The Dake Page has no doubt noticed. Then there are the three books in progress: 1) My ongoing next Lincoln book, 2) the new Lincoln compilation book I’m organizing and editing, and 3) a travel memoir that will be the first in my “Science Traveling” series. If that isn’t enough, I’ve already started planning for the book I’ll start working on next year.
Now, according to my marketing expert friend, I need to add live video of my travels/books/interviews. I need to write more for the national press. I need to guest write on popular blogs. I need to be more active (and smarter) with my social media activities. I need to, well, you get the idea.
Ironically, I’ve been so busy juggling my lives I haven’t done any real juggling – literally tossing the balls in the air – since late June. Physical juggling has always been my mental break from the metaphysical juggling. I need to get that back on track as well.
So here I am writing, but not writing, as I’m sure you understand the difference. Which means, this bit of monologue and introspection must end and I must get back to the task at hand.
Er, many tasks at hand.
David J. Kent is an avid science traveler and the author of Lincoln: The Man Who Saved America, in Barnes and Noble stores now. His previous books include Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity (2013) and Edison: The Inventor of the Modern World (2016) and two e-books: Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time and Abraham Lincoln and Nikola Tesla: Connected by Fate.