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Chuck Pollock: Ending the absence of writing

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My decision was made in mid-April.

After 50+ years with the Olean Times Herald, it was time to leave.

I wasn’t fired … wasn’t forced out … didn’t retire, just left.

My good-bye column ran May 31 … I chose the date.

The decision was mostly personal, though the details need not be regurgitated here.

But it was also partly pragmatic.

Watching the fatal fate of the printed newspaper edge toward its inevitable demise was particularly bothersome to me.

AFTER that final piece appeared in the OTH, I received a flood of humbling emails, texts and phone calls. Many were from long-time readers who were bothered that I left a half-century career in which they had gotten to know my opinions, phrasing and sense of humor.

Some offered suggestions … write a blog, author a book.

Neither had a shred of interest for me.

They were well-intentioned, but when you’re a columnist — cityside, politics or sports — the juice is provided by the immediacy, commenting on an event or situation via the next press run.

There’s the added bonus of prompt feedback — complimentary or critical  — and knowing readers are talking about what you wrote.

Take that away and it leaves a sizable hole …  one I hadn’t totally contemplated.

Not that there was regret about the decision to leave the OTH, but rather the absence of writing in my life.

THE REALITY came quickly.

Shortly after my final column that empty spot was in need of antacids.

There was the ridiculous soap opera with wide receiver Stefon Diggs totally exacerbated by Bills coach Sean McDermott, the verification that it was him who called the fateful defense on the final drive of regulation in that crushing “13 seconds” playoff loss at Kansas City two years ago (I wrote exactly that the week after the game),  and the seemingly too early contract extensions for McDermott and general manager Brandon Beane.

I wanted to write about all of them, but had no outlet.

Chuck Pollock’s first Buffalo Bills column for the Sun.

Then, two days after my exit from the OTH, I got a call from the Wellsville Sun’s John Anderson, on his way to Long Island to cover a pair of Allegany County teams playing in the New York State softball championships.

Having been friends for 30 years, dating to his stint with the Times Herald, he merely said, “I need you to come to work for me.”

My response was equally brief: “When do you want me to start?”

AND THAT’S how I ended up here.

My plan is to write three columns per week, though that’s subject to having ideas and July isn’t a particularly fruitful month.

My pieces will be on the usual suspects — Bills and Bonnies — plus anything else that triggers an opinion or people who merit a column.

And the latter brings me to something I learned long ago.

One of the best sources for my pieces is the readers themselves … letting me know about something of which I wouldn’t otherwise have been aware.

A perfect example is Wellsville’s Nyhl Austin, father of the late Kevin, founder of the myfantasyleagues.com website. He wanted me to know that Kevin was to be inducted into the Fantasy Sports Hall of Fame posthumously. Unfortunately, I’d already left the TH, but assured him it merited a column.

Happily, that piece will now appear later this week.

Meanwhile, I look forward to an all-new opportunity.

(Chuck Pollock, a Wellsville Sun senior sports columnist, can be reached at cpollock@wnynet.net)

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