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Cui Geng roughly scanned the document. Its main provisions concerned the rights and responsibilities for this class.
The website was obligated to provide a basic salary, insurance and funds, a working environment, accommodation, food, and the like for the authors. There were set standards for the salary, the insurance, the funds, as well as the food and accommodation.
On top of that, about ten hours each weekor two afternoons—would be spent on team exercises.
On the other hand, the authors would only have to submit themselves to the website’s scheduling. Otherwise, the website would be allowed to terminate the contract unconditionally and retract all promises and benefits under the contract.
There were also details about the flow and arrangement of the class.
What concerned Cui Geng the most was that, under the agreement, all authors would have clear work and rest times. Each day, they would work at their desks from 9 AM to 6 PM. In between, they would have an hour for lunch and rest.
Cui Geng was very happy with all the other provisions, but that one provision about work timings made him hesitate.
A frequent no-show like him, who had been used to working only two or three hours a day, now had to work eight hours a day at a work desk?
That sounded very difficult.
He worried that the website would retract all his benefits and privileges if he failed to hit the targets. Wouldn’t that be embarrassing?
Cui Geng voiced his concerns. “Boss Ma, the agreement states that we have to work for eight hours, right? Are there any other requirements, such as writing a minimum of four thousand words?”
Ma Yiqun shook his head. “There won’t be a word count.
“Writing is a creative process. Every author will experience writer’s block and be unable to produce anything. That’s why we decided not to set a hard and fast rule for the word count.”
Cui Geng heaved a sigh of relief.
It was good that they did not have a word count!
During working hours, he could surf the net, slack, and do whatever he wanted. Then, the eight hours would pass quickly.
The website was providing food and accommodation. They were even allowing everyone to travel around Jingzhou regularly to relax. Cui Geng could also look forward to eating, drinking, playing, and chatting with the other authors; and all he would have to do was surf the net in another location.
For all he knew, the computer they would provide him with would have better specifications than the computer he had at home.
All in all, it was a good deal.
Cui Geng continued flipping through the agreement and found no provision that put him at a disadvantage. Relieved, he signed his name.
“Alright, we will arrange for someone to send you to your accommodation later.
“We’ve arranged for everyone to stay at a guest house on the outskirts of the city to ensure that you can enjoy a relaxed and peaceful environment. Your workplace will be a five-minute walk from that guest house.
“Don’t worry, we say it’s the outskirts, but the accommodations will not be of low-standards.”
Ma Yiqun kept the agreement. Cui Geng nodded and said, “No problem.”
They were a bunch of tough men anyway; they did not have high expectations for the accommodations. Even if the accommodations were located in a deserted place, so be it. Most authors were homebodies who did not fancy going out, too. It would not be a problem.
January 14th, Friday…
At 8 AM, Cui Geng was woken up by his cell phone’s alarm ringing. He instinctively switched it off and went back to sleep.
“Brother Cui, it’s about time to wake up. You told me to wake you up last night,” said a voice next to him.
Cui Geng suddenly realized something. He opened his eyes wide and sat upright.
He was not at home; he was in a hotel!
He and a few other authors had checked into the hotel that the website had arranged for them yesterday.
The hotel environment was quite nice. Although it was on the outskirts, it was considered one of the better three-star hotels. The room was spacious, clean, and tidy. It also provided everything that its guests needed.
There were two people in a room, and Cui Geng was rooming with a new author who was about a year younger than him. The latter referred to Cui Geng as ‘Brother Cui’, and he was quite respectful.
“I’ll be ready soon!”
Cui Geng rolled out of bed, brushed his teeth, and washed his face at lightning speed. Five minutes later, he was all dressed.
Both of them had breakfast in the hotel and then walked to the nearby workplace together.
Yesterday afternoon and night, all the authors had arrived in Jingzhou one by one. Not one of them had backed out. They were all writers on Zhongdian Chinese Network who had heard about one another here and there. Thus, they all engaged in polite conversation. Zhu Xingan had arrived as well. He led everyone to the place where they would be writing normally.
The workplace that the website had prepared for them was in an office building nearby. They rented a spacious place and set up neatly-arranged work desks.
Apart from mechanical keyboards and big monitors, there were also fountain pens and notebooks on the large work desks. Those were probably for authors to write down their thoughts and inspirations.
On top of that, there was a long conference table in the room and a snack area by the side. Aside from various snacks, there was also a coffee pod machine.
All in all, this place already had much higher standards than most offices.
Zhu Xingan watched as everyone chose their respective seats.
“Alright, it’s almost time. You can rest for a while at your seats, have some coffee, and then start brainstorming.
“My workspace is near the door. If you have any questions while you’re writing, feel free to approach me and ask.
“You will also get ten minutes of rest every hour. We’ll ring the bell, and you can all stand up and move around, look out the window, or stretch. That should get rid of any signs of exhaustion.”
Cui Geng purposely chose a seat near the corner, the furthest away from Zhu Xingan. This was a perfect blind spot. Zhu Xingan would not realize what he was up to.
As long as he could slack the eight hours away and spend two or three hours in the middle writing something, he would be able to get by.
Cui Geng clicked on the power button of his computer and lightly tapped on his keyboard, producing crisp tapping sounds that were extremely pleasing to the ears.
The monitor’s quality was not bad. It had high resolution, and it looked like it had been adjusted to provide blue-light protection. As Cui Geng looked at it, his eyes felt comfortable; they did not hurt as much as they would when looking at other monitors.
The table was of standard height, but the chair and monitor’s heights could be adjusted at will.
The ergonomic chair was extremely comfortable as well. The backing of the chair fit perfectly against the curves of one’s back. The armrests were level with the table, and when one’s arm bent at ninety degrees, they could rest their elbows on the armrests. Since they could also rest their hands on their keyboards, typing felt effortless and comfortable.
The mouse and headphones were not necessary for writing novels, but they were of high-quality, too. In fact, they had even better specifications than what Cui Geng had at home.
Although he was not sure about the computer’s specifications, there seemed to be a cool logo on the computer that said ‘ROF’.
Since this was a desktop, Cui Geng guessed that the monitor would be passable. He should have no problems playing large-scale games.
Even if he could not play games, watching shows on such a big monitor would be perfect.
Tap, tap, tap…
Crisp, tapping sounds of people typing away at their keyboards filled the room. Soon, the tapping became continuous and fast-paced. It was like a mechanical keyboard party.
If only one person had been typing on a mechanical keyboard—with the loudest click sounds, at that-in a quiet room, it would be akin to a person smoking cigarettes indoors. Everyone else could forget about working because they would be too distracted.
However, if everyone in the room was using the same mechanical keyboard to type, it would be like a group of smokers gathering to smoke. Nobody would be bothered by the sounds. Instead, they would form a unique environment in which they found pleasure.
Still, for Cui Geng—who was only interested in slacking—the sounds were very disturbing. Sh*t, we just sat down a minute ago. How do all of you have inspiration? Are you even human?
Forget it, forget it. Think on the bright side. Since the sound of typing is so loud, no one will notice me slacking.
These headphones should be good at canceling noise. I’ll look at the computer’s specifications and
The computer’s specifications were obviously excellent. The computer switched on very quickly.
Since Cui Geng had been seated at the desk in the far corner, he had gone to grab snacks and a cup of coffee before he came back to switch on his computer. Thus, he was behind everyone else. Cui Geng had initially intended to check the computer’s specifications and internet speed upon switching it on. Then, he would think about what game to download or what show to watch.
However, the moment the computer switched on and before he could even move his mouse, the writing software automatically opened up. It filled the entire screen and was locked in place.
Cui Geng, “???”
He felt slightly light-headed. Instinctively, he clicked Alt + F4, but the computer did not respond.
Then, he tried Ctrl + Alt + Delete, but still, the computer did not respond.
Writing software like that normally had lockdown effects. Once it opened, it would remain locked in place until a certain number of words or a certain amount of time was hit. Until then, nobody could do anything else on the computer except write!
This computer was designed to be more extreme. Once the computer switched on, it would open the writing software automatically. Even after one restarted the computer, it would open the software again automatically.
There was no target word count or time limit to hit. In other words-unless one called the technical staff, they would not be able to exit the lockdown state!
Of course, such software normally allowed access to Qiandu’s search engine so that writers could retrieve information. However, that access point was limited to searching for information-one could not even play videos.
Cui Geng was beginning to understand how the other authors started writing so quickly.
Even if they did not want to, there was nothing else they could do!
Cui Geng felt the urge to vomit blood. He had a huge monitor and a computer with excellent specifications, and yet all he could do was write. What a waste! After several tries, Cui Geng finally gave up. He knew that the writing software’s technical staff had probably already thought of any idea he could think of now. They would not have left users a way out.
Since he was already stuck in this lockdown state, it would be no use thinking of how to get out.
Everyone around him was typing away on their mechanical keyboard. However, Cui Geng felt like a prisoner who had just been sentenced to life imprisonment; his heart had turned cold.
The cogs in his brain started turning as he thought about his current predicament.
All of a sudden, a great idea surfaced in his head.
“Editor-in-Chief! There’s a part in my story that requires me to watch a certain part of a movie! What should I do?”
Cui Geng could not help but rejoice in his heart. That was a perfectly reasonable request!
As an online author, he often had to watch movies and play games to write. It made sense, right?
Some parts required him to write as he watched a scene in a movie; other parts required him to play a game for himself before he could write.
However, this computer only limited him to basic searches. There was no way it could fulfill either requirement.
Thus, it made perfect sense to ask that question at that moment. Other authors were probably thinking the same.
Cui Geng was not asking for much. As long as he could watch videos, shows, and movies on his computer; he would be satisfied!
Zhu Xingan pushed his spectacles up the bridge of his nose as if he had already prepared for this question. Pointing to a spare computer next to him, he said, “If you need to gather material, you can use this computer.” Cui Geng, “…”
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