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This chapter is updated by Wuxia.Blog
Translated by: ShawnSuh
Edited by: SootyOwl
‘Am I anxious?’ Juho asked himself. After having drowned in the river, “The Sound of Wailing” was a book that he had barely managed to write. Prior to that, his second book had been the beginning of his downfall. Now, he was revisiting that moment for the second time.
“This doesn’t feel real.” Juho tried to think out loud. None of it felt real. He felt no anxiety, restlessness, or even excitement. His right hand started to feel numb.
He looked up at the dark sky. As it swallowed everything whole, it seemed to have done the same with the sky. It was silent. No sound came out of Juho’s tightly clenched lips, not even the sound of breathing.
It had been in an environment like that where he’d written his second book. Writing at night was not always the best choice. Darkness tended to hinder vision. Naturally, if there was nothing to be seen, one would find himself in high spirits. What felt like a masterpiece at one point became unveiled by the morning sun, revealing its true, pathetic nature. In some cases, it accompanied feelings of pain and misery. Yet, Juho had written at night, and school hadn’t been his only reason for it. He had wanted to take advantage of its nature. Darkness hid everything, including the burdens from the past.
The dark of the night felt somewhat awkward without a pen in his hand. He lay on his bed and looked up at the ceiling. Sounds that were once distant started to make their way back. Things that were trapped within the dark slowly revealed themselves one by one. The clock’s hand ticked away, and he heard someone approaching. It became more and more vivid as he closed his eyes. Everything in the room was making a sound.
‘Caw! Caw!’ Juho opened his eyes at the sound of crows. The bright morning sun was illuminating his room.
“Ugh,” he grumbled. He had stayed up all night. “The book is here!”
The publishing company had sent Juho a fresh copy of his book. No one was home, so he reached into the mailbox and took out the book. There was a bird with a chair in a gray background on the cover. “The Sound of Wailing.” The weight of the book in his hand had quite a presence. On the back, there was a testimonial from Dong Gil and an excerpt from the book. There was also a phrase written on the binding of the book that read ‘Are you prepared for regrets?’ It wasn’t half bad. At that moment, his phone rang.
“Did you get your book?”
It was Nam Kyung.
“Why, yes, I did.”
“What do you think?” he asked.
Juho smiled quietly. From its weight to its thickness, everything felt just right. Even as he conversed with Nam Kyung, the book never left his hand. After the brief phone call, Juho made his way back into his room with his book. The room was just as messy as when he left it. It showed that no one had come in after him. He quietly stared at the scenery of his room as he stood by the door. His heart was racing. His hand slowly brushed downward from his mouth. ‘I really am back.’
He realized that he was living through the time of his downfall once again. Slowly, he opened the book. It was rigid, but smooth at the same time. Putting his nose onto it, he inhaled deeply. The smell of ink helped him finally realize that it was all real. He had written a new book. His last attempt at writing a second book had led him to his downfall, but this time, he had written a completely different book. His heart was throbbing with excitement.
It was daytime, when everything revealed its true shape. The feelings that had been hiding in the dark slowly rose to surface one by one. ‘It’s this book. What I wrote after drowning in the river, it’s all in here,’ he thought as he brushed his hand across the book. It was real. He had done it. He had successfully written a second book. That alone brought him an enormous sense of relief, and he couldn’t help but laugh.
He had finally finished it. Until he reached the finish line, he’d been wrestling with a lump of emotions. There had been nothing certain in that lump, and he had been repeatedly trimming it while occasionally setting it aside. He had stayed up night after night to see to its completion while meeting and remembering countless people, revisiting the emotions he had had with them. He had felt overwhelmed. “The Sound of Wailing.” Gray background. A bird and an empty chair. Everything about it was new. It was his newly written story. It was proof. Even if the book didn’t do well, it still wouldn’t be the same failure he experienced before. He wasn’t living through the same past. As he put his book on his desk, his sweaty palm attached itself to the cover of the book. The coolness in the air quickly filled the gap as the hand detached. He took a step back and looked at the papers and letters that filled the room along with his pens and books. Within the mass, the new book.
“The completion of a unseen scenery.”
Juho laughed for a good while as he wiped the tears from his eyes. He was in a great mood. Looking at the finished product, a sense of relief overtook him. No other thoughts entered his mind amid the euphoria. He sat on his chair and leaned back on the backrest, staring intently at the book on his desk.
His face fell onto the desk. As he felt the texture of the cover, its coldness slowly dissipated. On the other hand, his red flushed, face grew colder.
Now was the time for evaluations. The time had come for him to hear what the readers and critics thought of and how they interpreted his hard work.
With a sluggish movement, he reached for the power switch on his computer. Its mechanical whirring grew louder and louder. He hadn’t noticed the sound before.
While he had his head down, the light from the screen shone onto his face. With a slight pain in his eyes, he moved his mouse and opened the internet browser. His eyes were met with a list of “most searched keywords.”
‘1. Yun Woo.’
He moved his cursor onto it and clicked it. There weren’t any reviews or columns on the book as of yet. It would take some time to read through an 800-page, full-length novel. The news of Yun Woo coming out with a new book had been enough to attract the attention of the masses. His heart pounded. While he had finished his book, things weren’t quite over just yet.
‘Caw!’ a crow sounded from the outside.
“Let me help you with that.”
Many people would line up to buy from a slew of books being sold at the bookstore. Often, they would choose a book based on plot, cover, an epilogue or testimonials, publishing company, or the name of the author. Bookstore were full of such people, and Juho was one of them. As a customer, all he had to do was to pick a book and pay. Yet, he didn’t pick a book. The reason for his visit wasn’t to buy a book. Trying not to look suspicious, he carefully approached the section where Yun Woo’s books were being displayed.
“What’s this book?”
“Oh, yeah! I’ve heard good things about it.”
“I like the cover. It’s pretty!”
“You need to read what’s in it, you know.”
There were sounds of people talking. Juho stood in a corner while pretending to look at the books on the shelf, keeping his ears open.
The display rack near the cashier was a spot that was particularly crowded. It was one of the first places that people saw as they walked in. There, ‘The Sound of Wailing’ was on display.
A woman picked up a copy from the rack. The book wobbled in her hands. Another lady beside her said, “That’s Yun Woo’s new book, right?”
“Yep. It came out so soon, too!”
“I guess people don’t call him a genius for no reason.”
She examined the book in her hand, its cover and binding, opening it for a brief moment before closing it again, then flipping it. She read the excerpt in the back of the book and turned her eyes to the testimonial from Dong Gil.
“This sounds interesting. It sounds like it’s about a mother?”
“A mother huh? It kind of sounds predictable. Maybe it’s about motherly love.”
“Maybe… Wait, look at this,” one of them said as she showed the cover to her friend. “Apparently it’s going to make me regret. Maybe it’s not entirely about motherly love.”
“Pff. What if you don’t?” her friend said as she picked up a copy for herself. After scanning through the book, she seemed to have decided to buy it.
“I’ll just call the publishing company if I don’t find myself regretting after reading it.”
“What are you going to say?”
“I didn’t regret. I’d like for you to tell me what Yun Woo looks like as reimbursement.”
“Haha! I’d be pretty dumbfounded if I were them, but speaking of that, I am curious as to what he looks like.”
The two headed straight to the cashier. Having overheard their conversation word for word, Juho felt the corners of his mouth turning up. He felt a sudden urge to walk up to them and say, ‘this is what Yun Woo looks like.’ As he watched the two women walk out of the bookstore with their books in hand, he imagined how things would turn out if he were to reveal his identity. ‘Probably not wise,’ he thought.
“So, this is the book I’ve been hearing so much about!”
That time, a middle-aged man and a woman who looked to be his wife approached the display rack. Juho got closer to them to listen to what they were saying. Again, he pretended to be looking at books, trying to look as natural as possible.
“Honey, do you know about this?” the wife asked.
“Oh, yeah! Yun Woo? That’s our daughter’s recent celebrity crush, isn’t it? She’s always talking about how handsome he is when she’s never even met him in person,” the husband said with apparent bitterness. On the other hand, the wife had a cheerful smile.
“Kids tend to be like that at that age. They tend to be led my emotions, and that’s how they learn to see the unseen.”
“Eh… I’ve read ‘The Trace of a Bird’ myself, and this kid is no good for our daughter. He’s cowardly. He doesn’t know how to face difficulties like a man. Our daughter would had a miserable marriage if she were to marry a guy like him.”
“You make it sound like Yun Woo wants to marry our daughter. Haha!”
Juho smiled as he listened to their conversation. The father seemed to have assumed that the protagonist, Yun, was the direct translation of its creator’s actual personality. As absurd as it was, he couldn’t be the only reader who thought that way. One naturally tended to look for the author’s personality in his writing.
After each picking up a copy, the two headed toward the cashier. Juho thought as he looked at them standing in line, ‘What would they think of me after reading ‘The Sound of Wailing?’ Would they think of me as someone twisted and destructive like the mother, or a loner like the son? If neither, would they think of me as the clown who only knows how to mimic others?’
Regardless of how they thought of him, he didn’t want to be viewed as an amateur author who wrote subpar books. For a brief time, he turned his eyes to the book in his hand, which he had been stroking for some time. It was the book that he still hadn’t finished transcribing, “The Winter.”
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