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Our latest featured client, Joseph Eastburn, is no stranger to the drama of a writer’s life. As an actor, Joseph appeared with Alec Baldwin in the play A Study In Scarlet. As an author, Joseph has written an award-winning play, had his first novel accepted by a major New York publisher, and has had short stories and essays published in numerous journals. Watch Joseph’s video and read on to learn more about the events that shaped his writing career and his collaboration with Writer’s Relief.
In Joseph Eastburn’s Own Words
I started out writing poetry in my early twenties. At the time, I wanted to do theater; writing poems was just a very private way of expressing what I saw and felt. I was lucky in that I moved from New Jersey to San Francisco, where I met famous poets, and my first poem was published by Journal 31; then, on to Chapel Hill, North Carolina, where I got to know Sy Safransky, the editor of The Sun Magazine, when he first started the magazine in 1974. He published seven of my poems in the mid-to-late ’70s. Of course, now The Sun is a very established literary magazine and I can’t get arrested there.
In 1978, I moved to New York City. During my “starving actor” phase there in the ’80s, I began writing plays. By the late ’80s I considered myself a playwright. I’d also written screenplays. When I decided to finish my undergraduate degree, I chose to write a novel for my final project.
Someone said, “Write a scary book and you’ll get published.” So I did. I had attended a boys’ boarding school in New Jersey in the ’60s, and these schools, at least back then, tended to be kind of strict and reminiscent of British boarding schools. That made them wonderfully creepy settings for a mystery novel. The book was titled Kiss Them Goodbye, and by the time I’d written it, I’d moved back to California, this time to Los Angeles. Soon after we got settled, I passed a newsstand and bought one issue of the Hollywood Reporter—it sat on my desk for a week. One day I opened it and there was an ad for a book scout. To make a very long story short, I called and the person who answered the phone was a young guy who happened to be the son of a famous New York literary agent. He wanted to start his own agency in Los Angeles, so he put me through literary boot camp, whipped my book into shape, and eventually sold it to William Morrow for a modest hardcover deal in 1993. Again, incredibly lucky. And I’m excited to report that HarperCollins is bringing the novel back into print in paperback and e-book this coming February, 2016.
I mention this story only to remind my fellow writers that you never know what opportunity—even something as unlikely as an ad—is going to make your career. The irony is that it didn’t make my career—the next book I brought to the publisher was turned down. And the book after that one…I’ve been writing it for more years than I’m willing to admit. No book deals since that first one. I’ve traveled to so many writers conferences and pitched so many agents and rewritten the book so many times, it feels like I’ve been writing it for half my natural life! But I’m in the process of submitting it again, and I’m hopeful.
This brings me to the present. Off and on during my writing years, I’ve written short stories and essays, but every time I submitted them, I got nowhere. I really believed I would never have the opportunity to find an audience for my literary writing. The situation seemed completely hopeless.
I would get a rejection letter and get discouraged and not believe the writing was worthy to submit elsewhere. (Does this sound familiar?) When I heard about Writer’s Relief, I submitted a sample of every type of writing I’d ever attempted, and luckily they expressed interest in my essays and poetry. Now, when I get a rejection, I smile and think, “Hurray, I’m getting closer to my next acceptance.” So far I’ve gotten eleven acceptances and had seven essays and short stories published. This submission service and the care taken by my team has literally, before my eyes, turned me back into a successful writer. I’m so happy that every two months I have to create a new piece of writing. Writer’s Relief works!
More About Joseph Eastburn
For ten years, Joseph was a part-time lecturer in advanced writing at the University of Southern California, where he received his master’s. In 1973, Joseph self-published a book of poems, The Serpent Child. He also had poetry published in The Sun Magazine and Cellar Door. Two of Joseph’s plays were workshopped at Williamstown Theatre Festival—one, Heart’s Desire, featured three Tony Award-winning actors: Patricia Elliott, George Grizzard, and Donna Murphy. His play, The Godhead, won the 17th Annual One-Act Play Festival at USC.
Joseph’s short stories and essays have appeared in Crack the Spine, Slow Trains, Reed Magazine, Sliver of Stone, The Sun Magazine, The Tower Journal, Sand Hill Review, and Hobo Pancakes. He is writing a full-length novel on Twitter, The Summer of Love and Death. You can read the story so far here.
You can also find out more about Joseph Eastburn on his website.