Thursday, March 16, 2006

A Few More Prompts

National Service


His Latest Paperback


Architectural design

Poetry, the Basics. Lesson One: Love

Scotland 1-2-3

Plain Omelette Without Eggs

Biker! Biker!

Susan and the Sauna

I May Be Your Brother

Tuesday, March 14, 2006


It is easy to fill a magazine with "OK" stories, run-of-the-mill, me-too stories.

It's easy to think, ah-well, at least that's another issue out there.

When we started 7th Quark Magazine, our brief was to break away from the "Disease of Competence" swamp, from all those magazines we collect and often don't read, or read and don't finish.

I have barely ever finished a "typical" literary magazine, and even when I have, only one story in a hundred truly effects me or stays with me.

The small magazine market in the UK seems to be far more aimed at developing writers than aiming to be a source of real quality. Instead of holding up great stories for intermediate writers to aim at, the market seems to display stories which are barely above the good beginner/intermediate level.

I see stories winning competitions that wouldn't make a "par" score in Boot Camp. I see 30 minute flashes winning story competitions.

But how often do we see a story that wins a competition, that MOVES us, CHANGES us?

We are under no illusions that Seventh Quark is the New Yorker, but we HAVE to aim high. There may be room for another me-too forgetable magazine, but that's not what 7Q intends to be. If we can't find higher quality work to print then we don't go to print. We are happy to print solid decent work in our virgin spot, but for the rest, our standards are tougher.

To date we have had support from top writers, Steve Almond, Karl Iagnemma, George Saunders, Curtis White, Fay Weldon, Gina Ochsner, DT Max, Will Self, Tim Lott, Peter James, Jim Crace, Alice Elliot Dark and others.

We have featured a string of competition winners and seconds , and will continue to do so. We will continue to publish good craft articles.

But we are finding it seriously difficult to accumulate fiction of sufficient quality to fill the magazine on any sensible timescale. Publication dates move back and back and back.

The magazine is not subsidized. We have no Arts Council Grant. As yet we cannot pay contributors.

To date we have managed to partly subsidize the magazine via regular monthly competitions, but support for these has remained fairly low, creating work but little financial return.

Delays, delays, and now we have had a competition winner withdrawn, we are set back another story, another week or two.

7Q4, 7Q5, 7Q6 will appear, and they'll appear as fast as they can be filled, with good material, not "filler". When, is anybody's guess.

If you are a current subscriber and unhappy with this state of affairs; if you wish to cancel your subscription, please email me at, or telephone.

Alex Keegan