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Translated by: ShawnSuh
Edited by: SootyOwl
‘Of course we can,’ thought Juho. Mr. Moon looked straight into his eyes.
“Yes,” Juho answered.
“What do you think makes for a good story?”
It was a rather difficult question. What made for a good story? In the end, what the person believed would be the answer.
Juho thought about the stories that moved him from deep within.
‘Suspenseful stories, persistent spirits, skillful writings, characters with personality. Those novels might have left a deep impression, but could that be all? If an author had all of those characteristics, would they be able to write a good book?’ Juho thought of the opposite case. ‘There were times when I was touched by a story written in loose and awkward sentences. Those stories tended to be sincere.’ He believed that those compositions had been just as good. The desires for perfection and sincerity had always coexisted. They were both right. So, in the end, Juho’s answer was:
“What I think is good.”
Mr. Moon nodded his head.
“That’s right. I’m sure everyone has their own answers. Perfect sentences, easy to read, tight storyline, they’re all right answers. If you think a story is good, than it becomes a good story. Here’s what I think. A good story is one that shakes its readers. No matter how polished it is, if it doesn’t move me, I’ll just stop reading,” he said, looking at the club members. “If you have have differing opinions from mine, then all you have to do is go after what’s “good” in your mind. I’m not trying to convert anybody here.”
Everyone listened quietly.
“Everyone here is capable of writing a good book,” said Mr. Moon.
Having been listening quietly, Bom raised her hand and asked, “So, how do we write sincerely?”
“That’s your guys’ job.”
“There’s no equation to it. It’s colorless and odorless. It has no shape, so you won’t be able to touch it either. You can’t just pull it out and show it. Find your own way.”
Sun Hwa’s face twisted into a scowl. Looking in her direction, “If I were to give you a tip,” he added as he spread his index finger, “try not to be greedy.”
It wasn’t anything new. He had said the same in the past. Greed had been one of the biggest things to avoid in writing. Excitement, fear, desires, it all had to be left behind. Only then, writing something became possible.
The fact that Mr. Moon had said the same thing several times proved its importance.
“Greed leads to pretense. You won’t find sincerity in a pretentious story. Avoid being greedy at all times. Understand where you’re. You’re still beginners. You’re babies, incapable of feeding themselves.”
“Babies…” Bom echoed his analogy. Unfortunately, he was being accurate. After all, it would be their first time writing a novel.
“A baby shouldn’t be left in charge of grilling a steak when they can’t even feed themselves. They’ll just leave a mess, or worse, burn themselves. Experiencing pain before the joy of creation will instantly kill your drive.”
“But aren’t we all animals born of greed? It’s natural that we want to write well,” complained Seo Kwang. Mr. Moon gave him an exaggerated nod.
“That’s right. Listen, you animals of greed. I’m not telling you to get rid of your greed. I’m not trying to make you all into deities. I’m simply asking you all to be discerning of when to be and when not to be greedy. As greedy as you are, you can also be just as rational. You have to know how to control your desires.”
“That’s true…” she said timidly.
“So… what if it comes out bad?”
Fear. It was a natural emotion, especially for beginners.
Mr. Moon said without hesitation, “None of you will be able to write well.”
Everyone’s expressions grew darker, and Juho chuckled quietly, covering his mouth.
“That’s hurtful Mr. Moon.”
“Yeah, that’s harsh,” added Juho.
“You guys are unskilled and still learning. That’s what it means to be a beginner. It’s natural that you can’t write well. So, prepare yourselves so that you don’t fall into depression from reading your own writing,” Mr. Moon explained.
Beginners. That was what Mr. Moon had called the club members. Greedy, rational, and now, beginners. There was a variety of names.
“There’s an expiration date to the word ‘beginner.’ You’re given little time to be confident of your lack of experience as beginners. You’ll have to, at least, pretend to know how to write in front of the incoming freshmen, right?” Mr. Moon said as he placed his hand on top of the pile of papers. “So, while you can, write to your heart’s content.”
Juho nodded quietly. A beginner had the right to be confident about their inexperience. After all, they were beginners for a reason. It would take time to learn.
The club members were about to write their first novel. It was natural for them to be unskilled and inexperienced. Nobody in the room would criticize Mr. Moon for what he had said. Even the club members wouldn’t do that to themselves.
“Freshmen… That sounds like it’s far into the future.”
“You’d be surprised,” said Mr. Moon. He seemed to have understood Bom. The anxiety on her face slowly faded into a smile.
“Enjoy it. Embrace being a beginner. It doesn’t matter what anybody says. It’s your story, so write it however the hell you want. Writing is freedom. Since there is no right answer, there is no wrong answer either. Write away.”
“Yes, Mr. Moon.”
“So, now that we’re have a proper posture, let’s learn to write, shall we?” he said to the excited club members. “But first, theories.”
“Can’t we just get right to it?”
“Can’t wait for that steak, can we?”
“Steaks are delicious!”
“Know yourselves. You guys don’t even have the teeth to chew it with. Now, focus.”
Despite Sun Hwa’s grumbling, Mr. Moon picked up a piece of chalk. Though it was apparent that she had much to complain about, her eyes sparkled as soon as Mr. Moon started his lesson. She wasn’t an exemplary student for no reason.
Juho, too, took the time to brush up on the theories his body had learned up to that point.
It was quite fun.
Toward the end of the lesson, Mr. Moon brought something to the room that he had never before.
“Creation means something new,” he said.
With his desk pushed against the wall, Juho quietly watched the club members standing in the middle of the room. Baron, too, was watching from his seat as usual, but his eyes were on neither Mr. Moon nor the club members, but on the floor.
“But, creation comes from imitation,” said Mr. Moon. New things tended to come from something that already existed. Juho looked at the object between himself and Mr. Moon. His eyes were fixated on it even as Mr. Moon kept talking.
At that moment, Mr. Moon’s voice sounded from above his head, “Today, we’re going to spend some time developing our senses when creating. We’ll learn the kinds of senses we’re going to need when creating.”
“Why are these plaster figures here?” Juho asked as he raised his hand.
There were four busts made of plaster that matched the number of the club members standing in the middle of the room. Juho looked in Baron’s direction. They seemed like something that would suit an artist more.
Mr. Moon smiled as if he had been expecting the question, “Four plaster figures. They all have the same face. I bought them myself.”
“That explains the size,” muttered Seo Kwang.
“Who dares to interrupt the teacher?”
Juho had been thinking the same thing, but it was something to be grateful for, considering that Mr. Moon had spent his own money.
“You will each take this Agrippa figure with you. Again, we’re going to learn how to develop your senses for creating. Creation is new. New comes from what already exists. In order to capture that, there’s a need to observe.”
Observe. Juho looked at the plaster figures before his eyes. There were four of the same. Every bust of Agrippa in the country would be wearing the same face.
“Observe it until you get something unique of your own. Make your own ‘Agrippa.'”
“So, now would be the time to be greedy.”
Mr. Moon nodded with a satisfied smile.
“But how do we observe?” Bom asked, raising her hand.
“We’ve already gone over that.”
“Juho Woo,” Mr. Moon called for him suddenly.
Instead of an answer, Mr. Moon nodded. Chuckling, Juho understood the meaning of that nod.
“We listen, read, and think.”
It was one of the things Mr. Moon taught at the very beginning. ‘Damoon-dadok-dasangryang.’ It meant that that one had to listen a lot, read a lot, and think a lot in order to be a better writer.
“That’s right. You won’t get much from just sitting there and looking around. Talk to it. Pull what’s inside of it out. Try salting it or cooking it over fire. Then, whatever flavor you end up with, you’ll see something that you haven’t seen in that pale, lifeless figure.”
They had to make the plaster figure spill all its secrets. Whether it meant feeding it with sugar or salt, they had to make it happy or miserable. After asking it questions and sharing their stories with it, they would gain something they could write about. That was the essence of creation.
“All right then. Everyone take a bust, and go.”
With those words, Mr. Moon left the room. Confusion fell over everyone’s faces as they approached the figures.
After examining one in her hands, Sun Hwa grumbled, frowning, “I don’t get it.”
“He’s telling us to ‘create.'”
“Without pen or paper?”
“Your hands are probably better suited for it,” said Juho.
She turned her eyes in the figure’s direction, finally realizing that it wasn’t about writing. Mr. Moon was teaching them what had to happen before they started writing – their subjects, what they were going to write about.
Juho picked up one of the Agrippa busts. It was quite hefty. He looked around it for characteristics. ‘Hard. Plaster figure. Inanimate. Bust sculpture. Thick nose. Hollow eyes. Ivory skin. Commonly found in art studios. Always standing.’
He started to get a feel for it.
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