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Last Friday (Feb. 23), I went into a spare office at the literary agency that represents me, had a brief chat with my agent, then signed a contract to write my first book.

I want to say I was overcome with emotion — the kind of thing that would make for a great story itself — but the truth is that the deal for the book had been in the works for some time, agreed to in principle for months. This was just the inking of the contract.

Still, it felt really good. Until then, the deal was a nebulous thing talked about in the ether. Putting my name on paper, like marriage, made the book real.

Now, I’ve been writing my entire life, and though I often assumed that one day I might write a book, as all people do, it wasn’t until a few years ago that I began thinking more seriously about it.

Things kicked into another gear in late 2014, when an agent read some of my work on Medium and reached out to me about possible representation. Did I have any book ideas? No, I really did not.

We’d meet again periodically over the next couple of years, bounce around ideas for this thing or that, but it wasn’t until early 2016 when we landed on something with legs. I spent the next year writing a book proposal, and then late last summer we went out to auction with it.

For reasons that will be obvious once the book is available, I’m not publicly revealing what it’s about yet, or even who will be publishing it. But, if you’ve been reading my work for the past 15 years, or even just the past 15 minutes, you’ll now have a book by me that you can pick up in stores.

If all goes according to plan, the book will be out in the Spring of 2020, which goes to show you how long this process actually takes. However, one thing I must say, and it’s really important, is that even though years ago I might have wanted to write a book, I don’t think I could have.

The reality is, I spent the early part of my career coasting on whatever natural talent I might have had. It was only within the last five years that I began spending real time on actually trying to get better. By that I mean writing every day and studying the writing of others.

That said, I haven’t yet written this book — it’s a non-fiction book, so you write it after you get the deal — but I feel a lot more confident going into it than I would have even two years ago. My point is that just because you want something doesn’t mean you’re ready for it, even if other people tell you are, and even if you’ve convinced yourself that the time is now.

You have to do the work.

Anyway. I’m boring you now so I’ll try to wrap this up. I’ll still be writing here and elsewhere while I’m working on this book. In fact, you should read my latest work — “The Story of Combat Jack,” which I think is among the better things I’ve done. I’ll also be working on a bunch of TV and film things, an effort to break more deeply into that world.

Really, I hope you all check the book out when it’s ready, and know that I appreciate all the time you’ve spent reading my stuff on Medium and elsewhere throughout my career. Writing is a pretty thankless job, but knowing that people are out there digging this shit, that makes it all worth it.

If you want to reach out about anything, get in touch here: paulcantor@gmail.com.

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Wrote for the New York Times, New York Magazine, Esquire, Rolling Stone, Vice, Fader, Vibe, XXL, MTV News, many other places.

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