Closing time

Today was an oddly sad one for me. I closed the Walter Payton Museum.

An explanation: When a biographer does this thing right (and I hope people feel like I did it right), they accumulate piles upon piles upon piles of information. Yellowed newspapers, old magazines, photocopies, transcripts, tapes, DVDs, VHS tapes. On and on and on. It truly becomes your own collection. Your own museum.

My Walter Payton was located in my basement office, and it was overwhelming. One folder after another; one pile atop another pile. I knew, at some point, I needed to clear the room. Not just for space, but because—mentally and emotionally—I neede to move on. Writing and researching a book is, in an odd way, akin to adopting a child. The project becomes all-consuming and fully embraced. You nurture it, work it along, watch it grow.

Then, one day, you have a book.

And you’re suddenly the obsolete parent, your baby all grown up.

Again, today was hard. I recycled tons of papers. I saved some to send to Walter’s family. I kept a few things for myself. A bunch of the books will go to my neighborhood Starbucks, where they have several widely used Give ‘n’ Take shelves.

I loved this project and the book, Sweetness, is easily my favorite of the five I’ve written.

It’s time to move forward.

But it’s hard to say goodbye.