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This chapter is updated by Wuxia.Blog
Translated by: ShawnSuh
Edited by: SootyOwl
“Sigh. I don’t even know anymore.”
Bom let out a faint sigh. She had been stuck in a rut for an entire hour.
‘I don’t understand. I have a plot, and all I gotta do is follow the trail. Why is this so hard?’
She stared at her work on the screen. Her pace started to slow down noticeably from the previous day, when she first found out about having her novel displayed in the library.
She was wavering on whether or not she wanted to have her work on display for public viewing. Not many people would read it because there weren’t that many students in the library at any one point.
However, she still felt nervous. It had nothing to do with how many people would read her work. It was the very existence of readers that she found to be burdensome. Having been a reader thus far, she was feeling the weight of being a writer for the first time. ‘How would people judge my novel? What would they think of and reflect upon?’
Deep inside, she wanted to be complimented by her readers. She wanted to keep her weaknesses hidden and only hear good things, but she didn’t feel confident.
Bom read through her novel and was left feeling unsatisfied. It was nowhere near good enough to let others read it. ‘This won’t do. I better write it again.’ Just like that, she deleted everything she had written thus far. The empty screen began to suffocate her, leaving her feeling helpless. At that moment, she turned around to look at Juho, who had been concentrating hard on something. He was the only person in the computer room who had completed his manuscript, a long time ago at that. ‘How did he do it? This is so depressing and anxiety-inducing. So, how was he able to stay in a place like this and move forward?’
The bell rang and signaled the end of the club activity. The club members took their hands off of the keyboard one by one.
“Ugh. My shoulders are killing me,” said Sun Hwa, stretching her arms toward the ceiling. It wasn’t until then that Bom looked away from Juho. Having been stared at intently by her, Juho also stopped writing and showed his face above the monitor.
“Working hard, I see?”
“Of course! But it feels like it’s not going anywhere.”
“Me too,” Bom interjected quickly. She was probably not the only one who was struggling.
Looking at the sad expressions on their faces, Juho asked light-heartedly, “Are you guys stuck?”
“Yeah… and I don’t know why,” said Sun Hwa, sighing.
“I’m distracted thinking about my work being on display…”
At Bom’s answer, Sun Hwa buried her face in her arms on the desk. She had also been fighting that same battle.
“So, are you going to have it on display?” Seo Kwang asked light-heartedly, with not a worry in the world.
“You’re not, huh?” Sun Hwa asked.
“What brought you to that decision?”
“I have no desire.”
“The desire to be an author.”
It was the same for Sun Hwa. Pursuing writing as a livelihood had never crossed her mind. It had been no more than a club activity, and it would remain as a fond memory one day.
“I’m not planning on being an author either,” said Bom.
Yet, there was something bothering her. Something didn’t quite add up. Like Seo Kwang, she should have been able to make a decision and be at peace. What made it so complicated?
“You already are authors,” said Juho.
“All of us. Aren’t we all writing? That makes each and every one of us an author.”
“A real author would laugh at what you said.”
“It doesn’t matter if I get laughed at or not. An author is an author.”
“Why are you saying that to me though?”
“I guess it’s because you really look like one wrestling with your own work?”
It hadn’t been an ill-intended remark. The thought of considering herself as an author had never crossed Sun Hwa’s mind. Now, after having listened to Juho, she started to feel more convinced. According to Juho’s logic, she was already an author.
“Well, I’m planning on being an author for myself and myself alone, so I’ve got nothing to worry about.”
Sun Hwa grew irritated by Seo Kwang’s light-hearted remarks. As fun as the Literature Club was, making such a big decision had been just the opposite. She found no joy in wrestling with her own work. Writing wasn’t always fun. At that moment, Bom asked, “So… Do you think I should have it on display?”
She seemed rather worried.
Resting his chin on his hand, Juho answered absent-mindedly, “Why?”
“Huh?” she became flustered by Juho’s answers. “Well, unlike Seo Kwang, I do have somewhat of a desire to be an author. Anyway, I want to show it to other people, but I am a little concerned. Authors write things to be read by others, right?”
A complicated answer. Bom found herself getting lost in her thoughts, but Juho interjected.
“Then, do it,” he said light-heartedly.
“Wow, really? How could you be so nonchalant about this? Is it because it has nothing to do with you!?” Sun Hwa objected angrily.
“Nonchalant? Are you telling me that you didn’t hear me rooting for Bom?”
“Not one bit,” said Bom, looking sad.
“It sounds like you wanted people to read your novel, but you’re afraid, so now you can’t even write. Right?” asked Juho, summarizing her thoughts into concise words.
“Somebody told me that I shouldn’t be afraid of something preemptively.”
Just as Bom had a realization, the bell rang. Grumbling, everyone resumed the work on their computers. Bom was one of them.
Having watched it all from his seat, Juho also redirected his attention to his screen. He had been rather satisfied with his seat. There was very little chance of getting caught by the other club members for doing other things. It gave him the advantage of being able to respond quickly to any approaching person. In other words, no one would know what he was working on.
Juho thought, organizing the overall background in his mind, ‘Now, companions.’ Unlike the protagonist of ‘Grains of Sand,’ the protagonist in the full-length novel had a companion who accompanied him on his journey.
Juho peeked over his monitor. The club members came into view. They were his writing companions. It was a small club made of four freshmen, including himself, a sophomore, and a teacher.
‘A party of four should be enough. Maybe I should make them all the same age while I’m at it?’ he thought.
‘Although having gone to the same school, the four companions had never interacted with one another as students. It wasn’t until their adulthood, as four very different individuals who had been walking their own separate paths, that they came together to embark on a journey.’ Juho wrote busily.
‘The protagonist had a reputation for his unpleasant personality. One day, he discovered the location where God had been hiding, but that knowledge made him a laughing stock. He was mocked and ridiculed by his teachers, coworkers, parents, and even the local children. The man’s relationship with those around him became more and more twisted. Nobody trusted the man, and people started to warn one another to refrain from getting any closer than necessary. However, there were exceptions. Three, to be precise.’
The image of each companion rushed past Juho’s mind. He thought of the conditions he wanted to apply to the three companions. While being the same age as the protagonist, they each had to have a business with God. Meanwhile, they each retained their own distinct perspective of their world. As long as those conditions were kept, the personalities of the companions mattered little.
An idealist or a realist. A cold or passionate person. While there would be conflicting personalities, some would get along rather well. Each having led a life distinct from one another, the four friends repeated the process of helping and hurting each other. Juho gave each of them more shape and asked the question, ‘How have you all been making a living?’
Juho thought of the language he had created in his textbook. Because they would be in a mountainous region, it made sense for the surrounding environments to be green. And because of the preexisting agriculture, the language of the region would be optimized for describing the climate.
‘Plants, farming, crop, climate. It’d be nice to have a cook in the party,’ Juho thought.
The cook would be able to showcase the unique food culture of that region. In order to maximize that role, the cook needed to have a distinct characteristic. At that moment, Juho remembered the research data he had looked at while being in Geun Woo’s studio. Cannibalism. Juho felt his stomach turning. ‘Maybe the cook can be a vegetarian,’ he thought to himself.
He continued in his train of thought. ‘A person closely attached to the region’s lifestyle. The kind of person who is needed the most in that world. What about art? How would art have developed in that region? Pottery!’
While conversing with Seo Joong at his house, Juho had once brought up a potter. ‘A potter. An artist. It’d be interesting to have someone who wanted to show off his creation to God.’
On the other hand, Juho felt the need for a companion who was medically trained or sensitive to current events or politics. ‘Doctor, soldier. A medic?’ Suddenly, he thought of a face that gave off an aggressive impression; someone who would think of inflicting pain before asking questions.
‘A misanthropic translator, a vegetarian cook, a narcissistic potter, and an aggressive medic. That should do it. They’re all about to leave for a journey, so it would make more sense if their careers were something of the past,’ Juho thought. Each one of the companions was capable of stirring up enough trouble on their own. Juho imagined the four leaving their homes and careers behind in order to embark on their journey.
“Hello,” Juho answered the phone in a hoarse voice. He had been writing for quite some time without speaking.
“What the? You haven’t just woken up, have you?”
“Of course not. The sun’s up and high. I’ve been working.”
“Aha! Working on another book, are we Mr. Woo?” Seo Joong said playfully on the other end of the line. “I’m not interrupting, am I?”
“Oh, no! I was about to take a break anyway. Is everything OK?”
“Well, it’s not that something happened…” he hesitated. Juho waited patiently. “I was wondering if you wanted to go to Madame Song’s restaurant with me. You said you’re working, so I’m guessing you haven’t eaten yet?”
Juho remembered what Madame Song had said on his way out after his meal with Hyun Do Lim, ‘Come get what you like next time you’re here!’
“Sounds great. Where should we meet?”
Like before, the bell rang as the door opened. It was serving its purpose faithfully, and nothing seemed to have changed in the restaurant.
“Please, follow me.”
Madame Song led them to a table. Wearing his black sweat pants and shirt proudly, Seo Joong walked into the restaurant. Juho followed. As they were about to go into a room, a voice sounded from behind them.
“Oh, hey! Ahn!”
Ahn. Despite the seemingly unfamiliar name, Seo Joong and Juho turned around in the direction of the voice. There were two people sitting in the room next door.
“Long time no see!”
“Still walking around in a daze, I see.”
The woman was in a semi-formal attire. Leaning against her chair, her posture gave off a somewhat threatening impression.
“I don’t think I’ve met your friend here. Where’s Dong Gil?”
“Who knows? Probably reading Hemingway somewhere.”
Juho greeted the woman, “Hello.”
“Hi, are you the brother?”
Her tone had suddenly become friendlier.
Glancing at Seo Joong, Juho gave an answer, “Not biologically.”
“Is that so? I’m an author. I became one long before this guy.”
‘An author.’ Juho quietly studied her face. She seemed somewhat familiar. It might have something to do with her being an author. ‘Where did I see that face?’ Pictures of authors floated around in his head.
At that moment, Seo Joong whispered to him, “That’s Dae Soo Na.”
“Ah…!” A cry of realization sounded from Juho. Dae Soo Na. Her novels tended to be aggressive and violent. Yet, because of her cinematic directing, she had a rather substantial fanbase. Of course.
“Haircut?” Seo Joong asked as he looked at her short hair. Juho had been thinking the same thing. She looked quite different from the picture. It made sense that he hadn’t recognized her immediately.
“It’s been getting hot lately, so I just just cut it short.”
“It suits you well.”
“I think so too. If you don’t mind, do you want to join us?”
Because it would have been awkward to stand around, Juho and Seo Joong nodded in agreement. Her companion, who had remained quiet, also nodded shyly.
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