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This chapter is updated by Wuxia.Blog
Translated by: ShawnSuh
Edited by: SootyOwl
“Done! Finally!” Seo Kwang shouted. While all eyes were on him, Juho, too, looked at him with the same eyes he had been using to read his work. He was celebrating with his hands up in the air.
“I’m telling you, he’s slow.”
“The more thorough you are with revisions, the better.”
“You don’t think others finished before you because they weren’t as thorough as you, do you?”
“You’re the one to talk. You just finished yours yesterday.”
“Guys, calm down.”
The quarreling between Sun Hwa and Seo Kwang echoed throughout the room. Though they bickered, there was excitement in their voices. With that, each of the club members had finished a story of their own.
“Now, it’s time to make a decision,” said Mr. Moon as he rose from his seat. He was referring to the matter of whether the writers wanted to have their work on display in the school library or not. It was a decision that belonged solely to the writers themselves.
“Those who would like to have their work on display, come talk to me in the staffroom with your story. I’ll print it out, and then it’ll go straight to the library.”
“Sigh,” the club members let out a heavy one.
“How much time do we get to decide?”
“The sooner the better. Let’s say… next week?”
“Egh!? Next week??”
“It’s the weekend, so it works out perfectly. You can think it over at home. I’ll still accept it even if it’s late.”
Just like that, the club members had to spend their weekend wrestling with a decision.
After spending some time thinking, Juho decided to have his work on display at school, publishing it under his real name, “Juho Woo.” Though it might be a humble and seemingly insignificant in comparison to his professional debut, it was perfect for the seventeen year old Juho Woo.
If he hadn’t published ‘The Trace of a Bird,’ he would have ended up publishing one single book as a Literature Club member. Thinking back on his past, he had leaped to fame all without having taken such steps toward becoming a writer. It made sense that his career had eventually fallen apart.
He relaxed while lying comfortably on his bed.
“Ah! This is nice…”
The weekend was a delightful occasion. For the first time in a while, Juho was able to spend some time resting. While staring at the ceiling blankly, he felt a sudden urge to read a book.
He sat up and walked toward the bookshelf. After scanning through the books, his eyes eventually landed a book written by Franz Kafka. Juho was a fan of his work. Though his books never saw the light of day, they eventually became known to the world by the hands of his friend, Max Brod. Max himself might have been responsible for not following the request of his dying friend, who asked him to burn all of his works, but the world benefited greatly from those same magnificent works.
‘If Kafka himself were to see what happened, how would he feel?’ Juho became curious. Kafka had been a writer who had written in solitude throughout his entire life. ‘As an author who pursued an artistic ego, would he be delighted in the fact that his work was finally receiving its due recognition, or would he blame his friend for not following through with his will?’ With those thoughts in mind, Juho opened the book. It was an original copy, written in German.
After some time, the vibrations from his phone broke the silence, taking his peaceful weekend with it. Feeling slightly annoyed, Juho reached for his phone on the desk. It was a number that he didn’t recognize.
Usually, he wouldn’t have hesitated to reject the call. However, a potential possibility crossed his mind at that moment, so he carefully answered the call.
“Is this Won Yi Young?”
“Yes, this is he.”
“This is Jang Mi Hong from Dong Baek Publishing Company. I saw that you submitted a manuscript some time ago?”
“I wanted to let you know that we’re interested in publishing your work.”
(TL’s Note: “Jang Mi” means rose in Korean.)
A smile spread across Juho’s face. ‘First phase, pass.’ His work had successfully moved the hearts of its readers even without the name “Yun Woo.” At least the hearts of those who were in the publishing industry anyway.
“Would you have some time to visit us and discuss this in person?” Jang Mi asked.
Having exchanged a few more words, Juho stood in a daze, feeling the heat being emitted from his phone.
At that moment, the phone began to ring again. It was another number he didn’t recognize. He answered without hesitation.
“Hello, is this Won Yi Young?”
“Yes, this is he.”
“Hi, how are you Mr. Young? I’m calling on behalf of Village Publishing Company. I wanted to discuss your submission with you?”
From then on, Juho received a total of three phone calls, two emails, and two letters, all offering to publish his work. With the exception of one, all other companies he submitted to showed positive responses by showing interest in publishing it.
Juho felt the same rush he felt when he made his very first submission. The news of his work being made into a book had always overwhelmed him with joy. It had been a while since he felt that satisfaction. Won Yi Young seemed like he would have a bright future ahead of him.
He took a deep, quiet breath.
‘Now, who do I choose?’ It was a rather pleasant concern.
Things were much busier than usual at the Dong Baek Publishing Company.
“Mr. Young’s coming in soon, right? Make sure to leave the conference room empty.”
“Everything’s ready, including the contract.”
The president had organized the meeting personally for the occasion. Won Yi Young was on his way to the company. He checked the time. Thirty minutes until the meeting.
“I don’t know why I’m so nervous.”
“You too? Same here,” Jang Mi agreed with him. Though it was not the first time either of them would meet an author, there was an odd tension in the air. With a quick, swift movement, she pushed her piercing into her nose. It would no longer be visible from then on.
“You don’t think it’s going to be someone we’ve met, do you?”
“Maybe. Who are you thinking?”
She thought about the list of young authors he’d met so far.
“He seemed to have a similar style to Mr. Ahn.”
“No, it’s way too colorful,” said the president, shaking his head.
“Ms. Choo’s probably busy working on ‘Behind the Curtains.’ Ah, do you happen to know Joon Soo Bong? He’s not very well-known, but I’m a huge fan.”
“Of course, but he has such a distinct style. We would’ve caught it right off the bat.”
“That’s true. Mr. Uhm would be a silly guess, right?”
“Yep. There’s no way.”
Wearing a puzzled look, Jang Mi tilted her head. ‘Is he even an author? No, he has to be.’ Won Yi Young was more than competent in terms of his skill as a writer.
“With a skill like that, it might be someone with more experience.”
“He sounded young.”
“I have a young voice too.”
“Ahaha… of course…”
While they joked around light-heartedly, an employee said, “Sir? Ms. Hong? Mr. Young’s here.”
With her heart pounding for a reason unknown, Jang Mi went out to greet the author. An individual who appeared to be an author stood in front of the entrance.
‘He looks young,’ thought Jang Mi. His appearance was just as young as his voice. He couldn’t have been older than a high school student. When their eyes met, the mature expression of an adult spread across his face. It was a peaceful smile. Jang Mi felt a slight hesitation in her mind. ‘Is he really young?’ He exuded a strange aura. At that moment, a thought suddenly crossed her mind. ‘Could it be him?’ She might have been nervous because of a subconscious premonition.
“Hello,” the author greeted her. Jang Mi greeted back in a hurry.
“Yes, hello. Mr. Young, right?”
After exchanging light greetings, Jang Mi brought him to the conference room. The young author calmly walked into the building. Though it didn’t appear to be his first time visiting a publishing company to sign a contract, there was no trace of anxiety or excitement. He was calm and mature.
“Sir, Mr. Young’s here.”
“Please, come on in,” said the president, welcoming the author.
In contrast to his light-hearted tone from earlier that day, a low, serious voice leaked out of the conference room. Without hesitation, Jang Mi opened the door and stepped aside to let the author in.
“Hello, Dong Baek Lee.”
Juho exchanged greetings with the president of the company in the conference room. Being middle-aged, he gave off a rather threatening impression. His appearance was far from a welcoming one. Yet, his honest smile had a charm of its own.
“Mr. Won, I’m assuming?’
“I enjoyed your work quite a bit. Thank you so much for submitting it to our company,” said Dong Baek as he bowed. Juho too returned a bow.
“Thank you for contacting me,” Juho said while facing Jang Mi and Dong Baek. As they sat with a rectangular desk in between them, the room felt similar to the science lab at school. A cup of green tea was brought out for Juho.
Before getting to the main point, Dong Baek started a conversation by bringing up Juho’s work, “Your work left me with a deep impression, Mr. Young.”
“I was especially impressed by the language chart that you included in your submission. Did you come up with that?”
“Yes, I did.”
“If the readers are to learn that chart, would they be able to understand the language in your book?”
Juho nodded quietly.
“It is a language after all. It’d be more than possible.”
“May I ask how it came about?”
After spending a brief time thinking, Juho answered, “So… I based the letters on the western alphabet, Chinese, and Hangul. I also looked into Old and Medieval English quite a bit. I’ve made several different languages, and I’m planning on dividing them into two categories: one that is to fade into history, and one that survives the test of time.”
“When you say you’re planning on dividing, what are you referring to?”
“Like the Manchurians. The Jurchen language was simply too difficult, and it eventually disappeared from the face of the Earth. People there had to come up with a new language, and it took shape after its borrowed counterpart, Mongolian. The Manchurians declared the use of their own language, but it never grew out of its perilous state. I’m planning on making the characters in my book study such a language.”
Dong Baek seemed somewhat unsatisfied with his answer, so Juho decided on a more direct approach.
“Making an arrow, for example.”
“Weapons are for hunting. In order to serve that purpose, it needs to be sharp. I do look for materials in my surroundings that would suit that image, things like glass, iron, or pieces of ice. Once you experiment mixing in different ratios, you eventually learn which ingredient goes with which. I’ve paid particular attention to the language system and its vocabulary, because I wanted to create as many languages that were unique to that world as possible. Not only is it more fun, but it’s also more effective when it comes to showing the ecosystem of that world.”
“… I see. If I may, what’s your age?”
Both Jang Mi and Dong Baek’s eyes sparkled with curiously. ‘A genius. A genius has appeared!’ They felt like they had finally come to encounter a race that they’d only heard about. Seventeen. Genius. When combining the two words, there was one particular person who came to mind. A rookie who flipped the publishing industry upside down. An author who had been on a streak of success from his debut to his sophomore title.
With an anxious heart, Dong Baek asked, “So, I saw that you’ve kept your introduction rather brief.”
“Would that cause an issue?”
“At this point, not at all.”
His skill simply stood out, so it made his lack of self-introduction noticeable. In other words, it was a gem. A gem that sparkled above all the surrounding rocks. Those who had been blinded by it were bound by the desire to get their hands on it. Dong Baek fully intended on entering into a partnership with the young author. Having met the writer himself, that determination had grown even larger.
Therefore, Dong Baek decided to ask Juho directly, “Have you written under the name “Yun Woo” in the past, by any chance?”
With his heart pounding from what felt like excitement or anxiety, he stared at the young author in front of him intently. Juho took a brief pause and smiled.
“Would that cause an issue?”
Jang Mi gasped. Dong Baek subconsciously reached for the green tea on the desk in order to quench the sudden thirst and said, “At this point, not at all.”
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