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This chapter is updated by Wuxia.Blog
Translated by: ShawnSuh
Edited by: SootyOwl
At one point, Juho had been afraid.
“Of course, it was rather cumbersome. After all, I’m known as a genius and the youngest person to debut as an author. So, I tried to stay low and enjoy my life for as long as possible, but that’s when I thought of something I wanted to write about. I saw it with my own eyes.”
Yet, he had still been looking. Once again, he had found himself desiring for something that had the power to lead him to his downfall. Because of that, he was able to find it and face it.
“What can I do? I gotta write what I want to write about,” said Juho as he smiled. “I’ve tried really hard to not think of things that would get in the way.”
Failure, success, results, unchanging future and the complaints of readers, Juho had been fighting these thoughts from disrupting his mind and forcing him to stop writing. It was the only way he could write.
“I’m a professional when it comes to setting things aside”
He had spent the last three decades of his life running away. He had fled from his past failures, fear of challenge, and desire to write.
He didn’t think of the failures. He didn’t gape after success. He didn’t let his anxiety get to him or rush him in any way. He simply wrote. He looked at nothing else, but the graph-like paper.
“I have no clue about how the next book will turn out, but now that it’s already finished… Well, what can I do?”
‘I guess all those failures in the past weren’t in vain, after all,’ Juho thought as he smiled.
“Whew… did you hear that Mrs. Baek?”
“I sure did.”
“How old are you again?”
“My… my!” Geun Woo exclaimed. For a timid person like him, he wouldn’t even dare say such things. Yun Seo smiled quietly.
“I’ll look forward to it,” she said.
“Yes, ma’am,” Juho answered confidently.
He went inside. If there was anything different from the usual household, it was the designated space for writing lessons. It almost looked like a classroom. There were desks, a sitting mat and natural wood grains on the floor. There were compositions of her past pupils on the wall and a white board at the front.
“So, what do you think? Not bad, huh?”
If there was a school for aspiring authors, it would’ve looked like that.
“This is my seat, and also where I wrote my debut title. I’m not sure how much that would mean to an author like Yun Woo, but yeah,” said Geun Woo as he sat on the second backmost seat. Though he started off proud, his voice grew more and more timid toward the end.
“Do you mean the one you were decorating the sky with?” Juho asked as he smiled.
“Let’s… not talk about that for now, shall we? I got in enough trouble with Mrs. Baek,” Geun Woo said bashfully.
“Whether you decide to change what you’ve written or throw it out altogether is up to you as an author, but not like that. You can’t treat it like trash. At that point, you’re not just throwing away your writing, but you’re also hurting yourself.”
“Yes, Mrs. Baek.”
Though she said it light-heartedly, there was substance to her words. She was more strict than Juho had imagined.
That day, Geun Woo had almost given up pursuing his dream of being a writer. It hadn’t been that he hadn’t been happy with what he had written or that he had felt like he couldn’t write well. Deep inside, he’d lacked courage. Repeated failures had chipped away at his self-esteem.
What he had really wanted to desert hadn’t been his novel. It had been himself. Yun Seo had urged him not to give up.
“Coming to think of it, you two have a unique relationship,” Yun Seo said light-heartedly.
“An ill-fated relation turned good.”
“Sometimes, I can’t tell if you’re complimenting me or just trying to call me out.”
Though Juho hadn’t intended, he had always been part of Geun Woo’s failures and successes.
“I haven’t done anything really. In the end, you wrote something amazing, Geun Woo,” Juho said.
“Yep, and I’m also the one who wrote a half decent book. Come by anytime you want. I’d love to
rub off of you,” he said as he made a tai-chi like move with his hands. At that, Juho calmly took a step back to distance himself.
“You’re staying for dinner right? I’ll go prepare the rice,” said Yun Seo.
In the past, she had asked Juho what his favorite food was. After Yun Seo went outside, Juho quietly walked toward Geun Woo and sat across from him.
“Thanks,” Geun Woo said quietly.
“For picking up my manuscript that day.”
“I recall you already thanked me then.”
“Yun Woo wasn’t there that day.”
Juho asked after a brief silence, “Were there any missing pages?”
“A few. I read through it and rewrote them.”
With that, they no longer talked about that day. Neither Geun Woo or Juho said any more. They had talked about it enough.
At that moment, Joon Soon came back in after taking a phone call. He tapped his finger on his phone three times before putting it into his pocket. After he briefly looked in Juho’s direction, he looked back up at the sound of Geun Woo’s voice.
“Yep. My books don’t really sell,” Joon Soo said as he sat next to Geun Woo. The way they sat around the desk resembled an official debate.
Geun Woo grumbled with his face filled with discontentment.
“It’s odd. Why is it that people don’t read your book?”
Joon Soo wouldn’t have been able to answer that question. He just smiled gently as he patted Geun Woo’s shoulder three times. Juho thought of his books as he watched. His books tended to be focused more on literary value than appealing to the masses. There were countless gems that were not best-sellers, but unfortunately, not all became known. As the publishing market grew even narrower, accessibility was a crucial component in a book. There had to be something that caught people’s attention. That was the reality of it.
Juho looked at Geun Woo. His debut title was doing very well. The gruesomeness of his book had caught people’s attention. In modern days, people no longer remembered the fear of getting eaten. However, in reality, that fear was closer than most realized. One didn’t have to be chewed on like a piece of meat or have their bones taken away in order to remember the fear for survival. Geun Woo understood that fact. It was something people would take interest in. The publishing company he had submitted the manuscript to had predicted its success, and invested a large sum of money into promotion.
Juho turned his head and looked at Joon Soo then. He wasn’t as familiar with Joon Soo’s books. His books weren’t as provocative. From the perspective of a reader who had to pick and choose what interested them the most, his books didn’t quite stand out. However, Juho had been impressed by them. His style was clean, sophisticated, and beautiful.
He hadn’t given up on writing even as he took on a second job. He refused to conform to the norm. His tenacity would eventually bear fruit in the future. He would become a bestselling author, and many people would come to appreciate the true beauty of his writing. Juho smiled quietly. Joon Soon had been stroking the desk in front of him. He did it by reflex.
After staring at it for a brief time, Juho said, “Three times.”
“You’ve been touching things three times.”
His cell phone, Geun Woo’s shoulder, the desk, and the same while he was eating fruit. He had a habit of tapping things three times before putting them down. Juho had noticed some time ago.
“He caught you.”
“Ah, shucks,” he said as he smiled awkwardly, scratching his head. Amid his embarrassment, his good nature remained apparent on his face. His hand soon moved away from his head. Though it hadn’t been visible, Juho guessed that he had tapped his head three times.
“It’s a kind of ritual,” said Joon Soo.
“More like OCD, Joon Soo,” Geun Woo murmured quietly.
Instead of criticizing him, he humbly admitted it, “I’m sure it seems more compulsive to others.”
It might be compulsive to others, but to himself, it was ritualistic.
“What kind of ritual?”
“It brings good luck.”
‘Good luck.’ Perhaps three was his lucky number. Whatever the reason was, it was an interesting habit.
“Not to sound arrogant, but there are times when I’m surprised by what comes out of my head. It almost feels like something just flowed into my body, and I’m just lending my body to it. It doesn’t feel like I wrote it. You’d know since you’re an author. It doesn’t sit well with me.”
There were times when a sentence suddenly thrust itself into the depths of the author’s heart.
Those sentences were apparent in Joon Soo’s books. When the author wrote with such inspiration, they knew immediately how the words would fit with the surrounding words. However, there was a foil to such inspiration. That was anxiety. They felt anxious and insecure about whether or not they would be able to write something like that again in the future.
Juho asked after a brief thought, “What led you to that habit? Why three times?”
“My third composition became my debut title,” he answered with a gentle smile. It was somewhat of an underwhelming answer. “My books haven’t done so well since then, so I’ve been wondering if I spent all of my luck on writing that book. That’s why I tap things three times before I put them down – to bring in luck,” he added. He was somewhat of an oddball too. “Mrs. Baek didn’t say anything about it either. Besides, three is my favorite number. You can say that it’s a form of affection.”
“Towards what? The number three?”
“Myself. Mrs. Baek has always taught us to love ourselves.”
“I’m not sure if that necessarily translates to tapping your fingers three times.”
At that moment, Yun Seo cut his nonsense short.
“My husband used to like the number three as well,” she said as she sat next to Juho.
He picked up a faint, comforting smell of cooked rice
“Mr. Kang, right?”
She nodded quietly. Wol Kang. He was Yun Seo’s late husband, who had passed away at an early age. He had been known as an eccentric, but his books were still loved by many. The fact that there was a movie about him showed how much his fans loved him. Juho, too, had been an avid fan of his and sought out every one of his books. They had been cheerful and peculiar and they had made the readers joyful. That lively, fearless author had lost his life to tuberculosis at an early age.
“You know, I always had a feeling that he’d pass away too early,” she said as she smiled innocently.
“Mrs. Baek…” Whenever she made remarks like that, her pupils felt as awkward as possible.
“What? It’s true. I even got rid of him first in my book.”
“Are you saying that there was a character modeled after Mr. Kang?”
“Really? Who?” asked Joon Soo and Geun Woo. They must have never heard about it. Juho also thought, ‘Who could it be? The first character to die, similar to Mr. Kang…’
After a brief time staring at, Juho asked, “It’s not Malddong, is it?”
“Oh my! You guessed it before I even had a chance to say it!”
Geun Woo was dumbfounded, and Joon Soo, too, no longer looked peaceful.
“You’re talking about ‘The Horse Hoof,’ right?” Geun Woo asked in disbelief.
“Yes, the servant who worked at the stable.”
“He gets killed after getting kicked by a horse, right?” Juho asked quietly after Yun Seo answered brightly.
(TL’s note: the word ‘mal’ translates to ‘horse’ in Korean, while the word ‘ddong’ means excrement. So, Malddong would mean horse poop. Having ‘ddong’ in a servan’t name seemed to be a common practice in Korea back in the day.)
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