Beautiful Scruffiness Literary Magazine – Where Now?

Back in 2009, fuelled by an insatiable passion for print and for discovering new and exciting writing talent, I established Beautiful Scruffiness Literary Magazine, a publication which would feature up and coming writers from the North East of England, alongside more established wordsmiths. But that’s not all. I wanted each piece (more or less) to be accompanied by an illustrated interpretation by a local artist. Art and writing work hand in hand, and I wanted to provide an eclectic mix, which would stimulate the mind in more ways than one. To start off with, the art featured in Beautiful Scruffiness was done solely by Philip Liddell, a close friend and a hugely talented artist. He gave the magazine it’s individual look, and the style which he fashioned has continued to influence the appearance and spirit of the magazine to this day.

To begin with, I edited Beautiful Scruffiness on my lonesome, which, looking back, perhaps wasn’t the wisest thing to do. Sure, it was a great experience to have complete control over what was included, but it would have been massively useful to have had at least one other pair of eyes to look over the final copy, before sending it to the printers. You can go over written pieces until the cows come home, but something will nearly always be missed, like a comma, a spelling mistake or an incorrect page number. As you’ve probably guessed, there were a few errors in Issue 1 and these were pointed out at the launch in Borders Book Store. I can still recall that cold wash of fear whenever someone shouted my name and held up their copy.

Beautiful Scruffiness (you have no inkling how many ideas I had to trawl through before coming up with the title) started off as a slim, stapled publication. However, despite its slenderness, it was strong and unique, with a heart I knew wouldn’t give out. Sure, it has had its ups and downs, but which magazine hasn’t?

With Issue 2 I made the decision that I wanted the magazine to include work (writing and art) from people based outside of the North East, and so asked for submissions from further afield, i.e. the world. I also enlisted other enthusiastic artists to get involved, as well as people willing to proofread. I can’t stress how much easier it made the process, and will advise anyone thinking about starting up their own magazine to get help and support from a solid group of attentive, tolerant people. It’s also now that I ought to mention Jess Drew, who has supported Beautiful Scruffiness from the early days, and her wonderful father Paul Drew who read the magazine and thought so highly of it that he offered to help fund a number of future issues. Without his amazing support, Beautiful Scruffiness would never have made it to Issue 2 let alone Issue 5.

A few months back,  Issue 5 was released to the world online, with the promise that it would soon be available as a printed copy. However, the money has yet to materialise for me to be able to make this happen. But believe me, it’s being working on it.  Despite being unable to currently print, Issue 5 is a stunning issue. Everything from the front cover to the last piece of writing is exceptional. It’s an absolute joy to read and I really feel as if Beautiful Scruffiness has taken some significent steps forward. Of course, this is largely due to our most recent designer, Phil Robinson of Black Raven Design.

But now it’s come to the part where I have to break the bad news. I’ve made the difficult decision to cease creation of future issues, until I have been able to acquire the funds to print Issue 5. My reasoning for starting Beautiful Scruffiness was due to my absolute adoration of print and my determination to help keep it alive. Seen as though I am unable to afford to print the current issue, I feel it would be wrong to move on with the next. I believe that it would go against my values and I would be unable to put in the necessary 110%.

Another reason for ceasing with the production is because of a severe lack of submissions. It might be due to my poor advertising skills, or it might be due to the fact that people have been simply too busy, I don’t know. All I do know is that I haven’t received enough to put together a strong Issue 6. This has never happened before, and it has left me somewhat baffled and, yes, extremely upset. But I have a feeling this is down to my poor marketing and severe lack of business sense. When we do start up again, I think it would be great to have someone who would be able to help ‘spread the word’ and pull the submissions in.

Despite having to jack in something which has been an enormous part of my life for the past five years, I am doing my best to look at the positives which will come from this. For a start, I will be able to focus more on establishing my career as a freelance writer. The ‘spare time’ will also allow me to pay more attention to my new magazine Big Eyes as well as a series of collaborative projects which are set to take place this year. So it’s not all bad news. In the meantime, I’m going to leave you with a link to the latest issue and images of our fabulous front covers.

Read Issue 5 for free here:

I will be writing a blog post in the near future highlighting the talent we have featured in the magazine over the years, and I will be giving a well deserved, ‘big shout out’ to all of the people who have helped Beautiful Scruffiness become what it is.  

(If you are interested in becoming involved with Beautiful Scruffiness in the future, be that as a proof-reader, artist, writer then drop me a line.)

If you are interested in purchasing a copy of Issue 3 and 4 of Beautiful Scruffiness drop me a line. Once they’re gone, they’re gone.