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The Great Storyteller (Web Novel) - Chapter 77 – Smooth Sail ###

Chapter 77 – Smooth Sail ###

This chapter is updated by Wuxia.Blog

Translated by: ShawnSuh

Edited by: SootyOwl

A group of people stood in a circle inside the meeting room, each wearing a serious look. In the center, were the four designs that were candidates for the book cover of Yun Woo’s next book.

“Not these two.”

The choices were narrowed down. The two remaining designs were in contrast of one another even in their overall color scheme. Blood and ash. On the left, there was a glossy cover with a white cloth waving in the red background. On the right, there was a matte cover with an empty chair and a bird on a gray background. The design on the left evoked the image of the mother, the protagonist, whereas the design on the right signified the overall tone of the book. Zelkova had received many praises for their book designs. Rightfully so, both were equally beautiful.

“Shall we?”

It was a meeting to determine the cover design for Yun Woo’s next book. Everyone looked serious. In that tense atmosphere, the editor-in-chief broke the ice, “I think I like the one on the left. It matches the mother. The red and white really stand out too.”

Having been thinking the same, Nam Kyung nodded quietly, but at that moment, Mr. Seo said, “I’m voting for the one of the right. The strongest emotion I felt while reading this book was regret. It had a bitter aftertaste. As long as the cover has the name ‘Yun Woo’ on it, I don’t think it would be a bad idea to go with a calmer design. The illustration is at the center too, so it gives balance.”

Nam Kyung nodded once again. Mr. Seo had a good point. Nothing promoted the book more than the name ‘Yun Woo.’ Yet, books had always benefited from promotion, and the design on the left definitely stood out. Nam Kyung contemplated his options. He wanted to use both if possible.

“I prefer the left one,” said Ms. Song. “The mother is the protagonist. I like that it implies her unfortunate demise. Besides, it really jumps out.”

“Right,” the editor-in-chief agreed.

‘I guess we’re leaning towards the left,’ Nam Kyung thought. At that moment, Mr. Maeng raised his hand as if he had an objection to make.

“I prefer the one on the right. Like what Mr. Seo said, I think the name of the author and the fact that it’s Yun Woo’s next book would be enough to catch people’s attention. Besides, this design is closer to the book’s overall feel – sad and calm.”

Ms. Song quickly made an argument back, “It’s true, but the mother is the protagonist. From that point of view, I think the left stays more true to the book.”

It was a tight debate, and everyone glared at the two designs on the table.

“I think the book embodies enough loneliness. Assuming that the purpose of the cover is to lead the readers into its loneliness, then I think the left one is a better choice.”

Mr. Seo objected, “We can’t disregard the fact that the cover serves the purpose of representing the book as a whole.”

“Isn’t the white cloth already representative of the book? I think we should focus on the mother.”

“The characters are important too, but we can’t set aside the emotions either.”

“Who said anything about setting anything aside? It’s just as potent as the emotions. At the same time, it really sticks out.”

“But the name Yun Woo would already be eye-catching.”

“We can’t make it too plain just because his name is on it either.”

“It may not be as stimulating, but I wouldn’t say that it’s necessarily plain.”

Everyone discussed passionately. It was a familiar sight. Nam Kyung turned his eyes away from the people to look at the two designs. There was a bird on one of them.

A bird. Much like the first book, a bird appeared in “The Sound of Wailing’ as well. Its significance would be up to the reader’s interpretation. To Nam Kyung, it signified the hope that the protagonist had once held onto. A pair of wings born from her hope of meeting her baby. A pair of wings big enough to embrace both of her children. A pair of wings that she couldn’t have. Those were his interpretations. Like the editor-in-chief, Nam Kyung, too, had wanted the image of the protagonist to be reflected on the cover. After all, she was rather charming.

‘Wouldn’t that bird be reminiscent of the mother?’ he thought.

“In my humble opinion,” Nam Kyung opened his mouth amid the commotion, and everyone stopped talking.

“Right, let’s hear your opinion. You’re the editor of the book,” Mr. Seo said as he gestured to Nam Kyung.

“I think the bird would be better suited,” Nam Kyung said in the somewhat uncomfortable atmosphere. The editor-in-chief listened intently.

“I interpreted the bird to be the representation of the mother. Even if it’s not accurate, it would make sense to anybody who had read the book.”

“That is true. I interpreted it as motherly love,” said Ms. Song. The editor-in-chief nodded quietly. Having read the book himself, it made sense to him. The bird portrayed not only the mother, but also her loneliness.

“Well then, should we go with the bird?” he asked after a brief silence. There were no further objections, and the meeting finally came to an end. Nam Kyung walked out of the meeting room and headed toward the lounge. He was exhausted. As he reached for a bag of green tea, Mr. Maeng approached and asked, “Could you take a look at the sales report for all bookstores?”

“Leave it on my desk. I’ll look at it later,” Nam Kyung answered with a yawn.

“Busy, huh?” Mr. Maeng asked, looking in his direction.

“This is what it’s like to be Yun Woo’s editor.”

“Hehe… well, good luck.”

With a pack of instant coffee, Mr. Maeng left the lounge. Meanwhile, Nam Kyung sat on the bench to cool his head and organize his thoughts. He thought about what needed to be done in the future. ‘Print shop, temporary binding, and check for misprints ’til the very end.” The sound of an industrial printer lingered in his ears. Though it would have been ideal if books were made perfectly, there were always misprints. After all, the machine still had to be operated by a human. It wouldn’t even be odd if something were to happen. That was why he was thought of by many to be ridiculous. From the kind of ink and paper to the book design and title, there were simply too many choices that needed to be made as an editor.

“I should go for a walk.”

He walked out of his office and headed to the street. There were buildings, cars, people and pigeons around him. Although walking in the vicinity, nothing really caught his eyes. The walk wasn’t very helpful to him. So, soon, he headed back to his office. As turned the corner, he saw the editor-in-chief on his smoke break.

The chief saw Nam Kyung and gestured for him to approach.

“How are things with the copies?”

“I even came out for a walk like Yun Woo, but I’m getting nothing,” answered Nam Kyung, shaking his head. ‘Good thing I’m an editor, not an author,’ he thought.

“Well, hang in there. Try walking around some more.”

“Being Yun Woo’s editor is exhausting.”

Coming up with a press release for Yun Woo wasn’t easy. It couldn’t be awkward. Nam Kyung didn’t even think about writing like Yun Woo, but it still had to be on a respectable level. It had to suit his book.

As he flicked the ashes off of the cigarette, the editor-in-chief shared his impromptu idea, “Yun Woo, the handsome genius is back with his perilous tale. He will not disappoint.”

“Eh… I don’t know.”

“You sound like you want to work overtime.”

“The bestest of ideas, sir.”

The editor-in-chief laughed with his hand in his pocket.

“I don’t expect anything as distinct as Mr. Woo’s writing, but it’d be nice to have something with character still,” he said in passing. Nam Kyung nodded as if he had been looking for the very same thing.

“That’s why I pushed for a design that was more stimulating to the eyes. It’s clear and powerful, like Mr. Woo’s style.”

“It’s too late to look back now, unfortunately.”

“Well, now that I think about it, the gray wouldn’t have looked that bad. It reminds me of cigarette smoke,” he said as he shook his hand. The cigarette followed its movement. At that moment, Nam Kyung’s eyes fixated on the hand.

“The smoking scene was rather shocking.”

“When I read it, I thought Mr. Woo was an adult for a moment.”

The book portrayed the smoking mother in great detail. While it described the mother’s appearance from the narrator’s point of view, it also revealed the life she had been living. Her life resembled the smoke of a cigarette – stinging and in vain.

“Me too.”

They looked back. Mr. Seo was just returning to the office. The dark circles underneath his eyes were telling of his busy schedule. Being in the sales department, he was busy with organizing advertisements and events, as well as visiting bookstores and interacting with his clients. Especially in the current season, his workload doubled the usual amount. Nam Kyung exchanged a nod with him in greeting. It was apparent how exhausted he was.

“That’s how vivid it was. It almost sounded like a middle-aged man who had been smoking for the last decade,” he added. He had a pack of cigarettes in his hand. Like how Mr. Seo had described, the scene was quite vivid as Yun Woo’s style tended to be. For that reason, the mother’s life came as a shock all the more.

“I wonder if there’s a sentence that has to do with cigarettes,” he muttered.

“Cigarettes?” Nam Kyung asked as he quickly lifted his chin, startling Mr.Seo. “Honestly, I’ve been having the same thought,” he answered with a smile as he spread out two fingers.

“There’s something about it that gives off a dangerous vibe, like cigarettes. There’s an element of danger in this book. Once you get a taste for it, you can’t stop it, even knowing that you’re rotting from within.”

‘An element of danger.’ Nam Kyung felt like he was onto something.

“I should head back now, enjoy your smoke.”

“OK, I’ll see you inside.”

Mr. Seo casually headed back to his office, and Nam Kyung kept on thinking.

‘Cigarette. Element of danger. What about something that sounds like a warning? ‘Smoking may be harmful to your body. Would you still do it?’ Something to that effect. Smokers don’t stop even after reading a warning like that.’ Nam Kyung took a branch and wrote a sentence on the dirt. He felt the editor-in-chief looking in his direction.

“Are you prepared for regrets?”

At that moment, he felt something heavy on his shoulder. It was the editor-in-chief putting his hand on Nam Kyung. They smiled at one another. Yun Woo’s new book was smooth sailing.

*

“I can’t sleep,” Juho muttered as he sat up on his bed. He had been struggling to sleep because the release date was merely hours away. ‘Tomorrow. After tonight, my next book will be out. It’ll be out for all the world to see.’ He felt worried but excited at the same time. A strange feeling entangled his body. Closing his eyes or taking deep breaths couldn’t contain his excitement.

He opened the window. There was no breeze. The sun was already down. There was no moon nor stars, and the sky was filled with nothing but a gaping darkness.

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