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This chapter is updated by Wuxia.Blog
Translated by: ShawnSuh
Edited by: SootyOwl
“Calm down,” said Dae Soo as she pulled Mideum back. “Sounds like you stay really close to writing. Maybe a little too close even. I tend to keep my distance from it. I can even be a little reckless at times. Although, I’ve noticed that your stories aren’t entirely peaceful either. Does that take a toll on you at all?”
“No. The space I’m in tends to crumble away. The moment I leave that space, that’s when I start writing.”
“Closer to reality than imagination, but it can’t be found in reality… Yet, it definitely exists. I think I’m starting to get it. It must be like seeing a ghost.”
A ghost. It was an interesting comparison. That was the way she interpreted Juho’s writing process. Seo Joong nodded in agreement.
“I lean more toward wanting to get closer to writing, but this guy tends to be a bit excessive at times.”
“I’d love to experience it still, at least once,” said Mideum.
“I know it arouses your curiosity, but you can easily lose yourself. Every author has his or her way.”
While staring at his dish, Juho chuckled as he remembered something.
“It does pop out from time to time,” Juho said using Dae Soo’s words.
“OK, stop right there. I get really freaked out by stuff like that,” said Seo Joong. However, Dae Soo and Mideum urged him to continue.
“People contradict themselves sometimes.”
“Though I’m mostly content with the fact that I’ve finished writing and that I’ve done everything I needed to, there’s a part of me that wants my books to be understood the way I wrote them. I don’t know if it’s just me.”
While the crow was always rather irritable, Juho smiled everytime it threw a fit. While it demanded to be praised, Juho insisted on writing. It was either that the crow was immature or that Juho was simply showing off. Two opposing hearts existed within him, which meant he was contradicting himself.
“Oh, is it what I think it is?”
“That happens on a daily basis.”
All the authors in the room agreed.
“It can’t be helped. As long as we’re human, we’re selfish by nature,” said Dae Soo. Juho took no offense to her describing humans as selfish beings.
In order for him to taste the bitterness out of her mouth, she continued, “I feel how selfish I am every time I’m writing. What’s funny is that I can identify with others. Because there are two contradicting hearts, my thoughts also split in two. It puts me in an awkward situation at times,” she said, spreading her index.
“I tell myself that I would write even if it meant writing for one single reader. That is closer to identifying with the reader because I’m writing with my reader in mind.”
She continued, spreading another finger, “On the other hand, part of me wants my books to be read by the entire planet because I want money and fame. Frankly, that’s what every author wants. Greed is selfish by nature.”
Her hand made a ‘V’ shape.
“Of course, we’re not the only people who have these thoughts. All humans have the same thoughts, just dressed differently depending on the situation.”
“Everyone has a ghost of their own,” murmured Mideum.
“Of course, they’d be visible only to those who can see,” Seo Joong added as he looked in Juho’s direction, meeting eyes with him. “You said it ‘pops out,’ right?”
“You’re just fearless, aren’t you?” murmured Seo Joong. “It almost seems like you’ve taught your heart to know when it’s contradicting itself.”
Juho looked down slightly. He was right. In order to write something better, he held off on worrying and the feelings associated with it. Once he published his work, the time eventually came when he was forced to face the things he had been holding back. He wanted to run away just a little further. It was his impulsivity. He gave the lump of dust in the corner of his mind a shape. Suddenly, he thought of the crow and its feathers that were as dark as ink.
“Should I unlearn it?”
“That would be entirely up to you. I can’t reach that deep with my imagination,” Seo Joong said as he took a sip from his cup filled with frothy Coke.
“What’s it like when your worries try to talk to you? Is it fun or painful?” asked Mideum.
Juho thought for a brief time. The crow was rather noisy. Juho hadn’t even bothered to name it. He didn’t want to see it around. Yet, part of him didn’t want to unlearn what he had taught his heart. He was contradicting himself to that very moment.
“I feel like I would lose if my heart were to unlearn it.”
“Haha! I didn’t know you were the competitive type!”
“I must be.”
There was no way to know what a favorable outcome would look like. However, Juho had come to realize that the crow was there to stay. If that was him contradicting himself, and being human made him susceptible to it, then…
“Sometimes, I wonder if my heart just needs to be comforted in some way.”
“Everyone carries the same kind of burden.”
“Right,” agreed Juho as he raised his cup. The cold, refreshing beverage flowed into his mouth. Though it gave his throat a fizzy sensation, the Coke was refreshing.
From then on, they continued on with their meal and moved onto talking about subjects like current events and writing. As she cut herself a large piece of meat from her dish, Dae Soo asked Juho, “So, how did you get to know Mr. Lim?”
“Mrs. Baek gave me his contact information. Of course, I took the opportunity with gratitude,” Juho answered while eating.
“You mean Mr. Lim contacted you first? You’re so lucky. I haven’t even had a chance to talk to him to this day.”
“That goes to prove how good your book was.”
Feeling somewhat uncomfortable about being the center of attention, Juho changed the subject subtly, “It’s nothing compared to your work, Ms. Na. I’d love to write something so bold and unapologetic.”
“I’ve been getting some feedback telling me that I need to be more gentle and apologetic,” answered Dae Soo, sipping her wine.
Giggling, Seo Joong nodded in agreement.
“You know, you’d get those feedbacks a lot less if you worked on controlling your books’ intensity level.”
“Hmph! I can’t just stop writing what I have in my head because other people have something to say about it. Nevertheless, I did think, in passing, on whether I needed to tone it down a little,” she said as she raised her knife.
“I like your work, Dae Soo,” said Mideum.
“Eh. I think it needs to be a little… tamed,” said Seo Joong.
“I can hear you guys!”
“C’mon, Dae Soo. We’re professionals when it comes to receiving criticism. You know what to listen for.”
Snickering, she pointed in Seo Joong’s direction with her chin.
“Then, you’re next.”
“Eh, I don’t have to go far. I’ve been getting plenty of harsh feedback from someone very, very near.”
“Ah, none other than the infamous Dong Gil Uhm himself.”
“That ice-cold buddy of mine gives me the sincerest of feedbacks, saying that my work is too mushy.”
“He’s not wrong.”
“Rigid and cold isn’t really my style.”
“Your recent work was somewhat rigid though.”
Dae Soo looked at Mideum as she sat quietly, waiting for her turn anxiously.
“Don’t be scared.”
“That’s not helpful. I don’t want to hear anything bad about my work.”
“That’s a luxury we don’t get to live with in this world. Seriously, you need to be bolder!” said Dae Soo.
Having watched quietly, Juho parted his lips to ask, “Speaking of which, when is the next book in the Dr. Dong series coming out?”
“Agh!” Mideum groaned as if she had been stabbed in the heart. Juho was somewhat flustered by her unexpected response.
“Did I go overboard?”
“No, not at all. This girl’s been struggling with coming up with a case for the next book.”
“OK, that’s enough. We’re here to eat, right? So why don’t we just do that?”
“Your readers are getting antsy, you know.”
“Ughhh…” Mideum groaned again, shoving her fingers between her hair.
“There are plenty of cases I want to write about, but I don’t see anything Dr. Dong would find interesting,” she said.
“What are you? Yun Woo? Don’t you even try with your imagination,” Dae Soo said mercilessly. Judging from their interactions thus far, they were close friends. Quite a few authors tended to be overly proud of their own work.
“I’ve written five books of that series, and I still don’t get what kind of person Dr. Dong is. It’s especially so as of late. It’s like my mind has emptied itself.”
“My, my,” Dae Soo shook her head. She was familiar with the symptoms. It was bound to happen in any creative process and it came without warning. It was a natural occurrence. Without the help of magic, no author was capable of burning through the pages of their manuscript paper without stopping.
“It’s like catching a cold. It happens to you often. It’ll get better once you take your mind off of it and rest for a little while.”
“I can’t afford to! Even yesterday, I got a call from my editor,” Mideum said anxiously.
Juho looked at her. She was clearly in a rut. In most cases, all it took to turn the situation around was to find a small hole. It didn’t matter how small. What mattered was that there was a way move forward. Unfortunately, she wasn’t equipped with the proper tools to be able to poke a hole, which meant that she had to look for her solutions from the outside. However, it was human nature to search a place that had already been searched. It wasn’t all that different from the time when Juho lost his flash drive. He had looked through the same desk more than he could count.
‘What would it take to sound like Yun Woo?’ Juho wondered. In order to help find the right tool for Mideum, he asked her, “Is Dr. Dong not showing interest in any of those cases?”
“… No, it’s nothing like that. I’m sorry. It was just an excuse.”
“What if you gave him a reason to be interested?”
“Yes. Something that would make him think. For example, he’s a neatfreak, so he never sets foot near a corpse, right?”
“But he wasn’t always like that. He has touched a dead body before, so he did something he would never do currently.”
Thinking back on her work, Mideum nodded in agreement. There had been a reason for Dr. Dong to be at the scene.
“Of course. It was necessary for the story to progress. I did make it so that the clues that would arouse Dr. Dong’s curiosity could be found near the body.”
“Which meant he would HAVE TO go near it.”
Mideum had left Dr. Dong no choice. After all, she was the writer. She had dragged him in the direction she had wanted. Yet now, she was the one being dragged by him. She quietly immersed herself in her thoughts.
“Would you say that you’re against idea of breaking out of your own mold?”
“Not at all. In fact, the issue is that I can’t stay within the mold. Why haven’t I been able to do that?”
“In my personal experience, I’ve found my own greed to be the culprit.”
Her latest book had not been well-received. Because she wanted positive feedback, she only thought about the ways she could receive them.
“It seems like I’ve been far too distracted. It’s not that I couldn’t think of things to write. I was never thinking about it to start with. I was busy thinking about what others would think and say about me. I see. Now, it makes sense.”
Pushing her dishes aside, Mideum pulled a laptop out of her bag and placed it on the desk.
“The perks of having a genius around, am I right? OK, now I get it. Man, it wasn’t even that complicated! Wait, now I feel like I’m gonna forget. Ugh, what do I do? I feel like my thoughts are getting all tangled up again. Anyway, thanks a lot! I’ll pay you back later,” she said in a hurry. Her hands moved just as busily as her lips. What could she possibly write in a place like that?
“The things you do during a meal…” Dae Soo gave her a judgmental look. “You looked all depressed when I was telling you the same thing.”
“You’re not very graceful with your words, Dae Soo. If you said it like Yun Woo, I would’ve understood it immediately. I’m going to write this down on my journal so that I don’t forget.”
“What are you? Dong Gil, now?”
“Please, I have to focus. This is a matter of livelihood.”
Seeing her getting busy, Juho also took a small notepad out of his pocket.
“If you’d excuse me.”
“You’re fine. What’s that?” Dae Soo asked, looking surprised.
“Oh, it’s nothing special.”
Just as he said that, Juho closed his notepad after writing no more than a few words. He was reminded of a someone looking at Mideum being tossed around by the opinions surrounding her. Just like Mideum, that person would smile like an imbecile at those who were hurling insults at her.
“Is there something you’re working on?”
“Yes, but I’m not planning on publishing it as Yun Woo.”
“Let’s just say… myself?”
“Yet another curve ball. You’re one mysterious creature,” said Dae Soo, throwing her arms into the air. She studied Juho’s face intently. He was young, much too young to be an author. An author in their forties like herself was considered to be young in the literary world.
“Yun Woo’s works are flawless.”
As if the age alone wasn’t shocking enough of a factor, Yun Woo’s work were incredible. In Mideum’s own words, he was at an age when he would know nothing about alcohol. Once she met Yun Woo herself, she realized that it made sense that Hyun Do Lim had taken an interest in him. Yun Woo was simply too extraordinary to be labeled as average.
Dae Soo wanted to see that young author around more often.
“Let’s stay in touch. Would you mind if I invited you to our outings?”
“Outings?” Juho asked as he blinked awkwardly.
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