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This chapter is updated by Wuxia.Blog
Translated by: ShawnSuh
Edited by: SootyOwl
Dae Soo shoved a cookie into Mideum’s mouth as Mideum’s voice grew louder.
“Oh, right. Yun Woo’s here,” Mideum said in a lowered voice and chewed the cookie in her mouth fiercely. Yun Woo was writing on the other side of the tightly-shut door.
“Should we watch him write for a little bit?”
“You must be feeling pretty confident about your progress,” Dae Soo said like a warning. At which point, Mideum redirected her attention to her laptop filled with words. Every single one of them had been for the Dr. Dong series. All because she had thought of what kind of clues the detective would get out of Yun Pil, the author.
“They said they’ll push the deadline back, so it’s fine. I’ll just have to write it again.”
“You know, I feel sorry for your editor.”
Mideum typed away, pretending not to hear Dae Soo. The detective fiction writer was in a much better mood after the extension. Humming while writing the plot of her next volume, Mideum suggested, “What should we eat later? Should we go out with Juho while he’s here?”
“He might go home to write.”
“Well, we can just go on our own, then. We each got what we were looking for from each other.”
Dae Soo smiled as she looked at the two authors hard at work in her office, thinking of ways to turn the situation into a story. And Juho, having written and losing track of time, went straight home after fighting off the pleas of the two authors, who were tempting him with an outing and a meal.
Met with a warm welcome from her fans, Yun Seo’s new full-length novel began to take over bookstores. While impressive to readers, her writing also carried emotions that resonated deep within the readers. The homey feel of her style allowed her readers, overcome by the busyness of city life, to get away from their suffocating daily reality, giving them a breath of fresh air, as if standing on the earth in the countryside. It left her readers full and satisfied, and it was also generous and abundant like her cooking, gently putting out the remnants of the fire that burned deep within a person. However, it was that very reason that kept Juho from reading the novel. He had been keeping the book on his shelf, afraid that it would put out even the fire that he was writing about.
“You wanna read it, huh?” Seo Kwang asked, catching onto Juho’s struggle.
The young author answered honestly, “Yeah.”
Then, Seo Kwang came alive all the more, brushing his hand down his own copy of Yun Seo’s new book exaggeratedly. However, it was no different from his usual demeanor.
“You got work to do, Mr. Woo. You can’t afford to be influenced by other people’s works.”
“Oh, my! Is he listening to himself?!” Sun Hwa let out, scowling instead of Juho.
There were pages of manuscript paper scattered about in front of her. Of course, Seo Kwang wasn’t looking to stop any time soon.
“I believe you also have work to do, ma’am. Gotta work hard on that piece for the school festival!”
“How are you so confident when you’re not even taking part in it?”
“It’s not like I’m doing anything wrong. Why should I be the guilty one?”
“Of course, you are! Guilty of disrupting someone who’s writing!”
Then, Bom whispered from the side, “Sun Hwa, you’re the loudest one here.”
She, too, was wrestling with her piece. Like in the previous year, the Literature Club members had decided to exhibit their work in the library for the upcoming school festival. While Sun Hwa and Bom had decided to partake in it, Seo Kwang had decided to sit out.
“How are things looking for you?” Juho asked, and Bom shook her head quietly and complained, “It almost feels like it’s harder than last year. Maybe I’m backsliding? I just can’t seem to make any progress.”
Despite her anguish, that struggle meant that she had become better acquainted with writing.
“It’s supposed to be that way. Everyone’s figuring it out as they go. You know how you find yourself wondering how you were so brave when you think back to the past? Well, that’s because the more ignorant we are, the more daring we become.”
“Does that mean I know better, now?” Bom asked, resting her chin on hand and glaring fiercely at her manuscript. What hindered her progress was greed and fear. She wanted to write well and better than in the previous year. However, that was the very source of her fear. Fear of disappointment and not being able to satisfy her greed. It was a rather complicated emotion.
Then, having listened from the side, Bo Suk asked, “In that case, how come I’m not making any progress? Is it because I’m both ignorant and cowardly?”
“No. That’s because you’re still getting used to writing.”
“Yeah. Inexperience suits our precious freshman a lot better than ignorance. In fact, there is potential in inexperience. Keep refining it, and you’re bound to end up with a sparkling gem,” Seo Kwang said, encouraging the freshman in the middle of bickering with Sun Hwa.
That year’s festival would be Bo Suk’s first time writing for an audience, and rightfully so, she looked somewhat excited while obviously concerned. Just like Bom, she also had to be anxious. However, there was a difference in what the two members were feeling. One’s fear before the storm was not the same as the fear within the storm, and there was no significance in deciphering which was greater.
“I guess that makes Baron the only person in this room who’s not in a rut,” Juho murmured while looking in his direction. Wearing a confident smile, the sole artist in the club was just about to finish his colorful sketch of the club members.
“I mean, I am the ace of the club.”
“Wow! Such arrogance!”
“You gotta admit the truth.”
Despite the bitter look on her face, Sun Hwa didn’t argue against Baron’s confident remark. After all, he really was multitalented. While an impressive runner, Baron had shown talents in finding words and creating sentences. On top of that, he was also a talented artist. And he was, inarguably, the sole artist in the club.
“You know, your shamelessness is second to none, Baron.”
“He’s a professional at eating alone, too.”
“Not to mention how skilled he is at tooting his own horn.”
Despite the remarks that sounded both like insults and compliments, Baron maintained his confident look.
Then, Sun Hwa asked, “How are things going with your graduation? You’ve been busy as of late.”
Being a third year, Baron would be graduating high school that year, and he hadn’t been able to come to the club activities lately to prepare for the university entrance exams.
“It’s been a hassle.”
“You’re looking into the arts, right?”
“I’ve definitely thought about it.”
Whether or not one had the desire to learn, they had to go to a university, and as strange as that sounded, sentences like that permeated the entire world.
“You have decent grades, don’t you, Baron?”
“You can say that. Although, I don’t know if ‘decent’ will cut it.”
“Are you trying to get into a school in Seoul?”
“Not sure. It’s hard to say. My entire experience is made of activities I did in school. I don’t know what will happen to me if I get into a school… or if I never get into one. I don’t know what I’m capable of aside from drawing or studying, either,” Baron said.
Seeing his distinctively white teeth, Juho remembered the surprise on people’s faces when they found out that Baron couldn’t speak a word of English.
“Well, I’m gonna give it a shot, anyway. If I don’t like it, I’ll quit,” the sole artist in the club said emphatically.
“You’ll do fine. Besides, you’re the one who joined the Literature Club wanting to draw.”
“I think so, too.”
With that, Juho redirected his attention to the manuscript paper in front of him, which wasn’t for the school festival.
“Juho’s not participating this year, so we have to try even harder.”
“Break a leg.”
It was about self-identity. The story was nearing the end, and as he had planned, Juho had to write in a different style from Yun Woo’s, which had kept his identity hidden while allowing him to reveal himself to the ones he trusted.
It was that very element that Juho planned on including in Yun Woo’s new novel, tearing down the boundary between himself and the author, just like the characters in the novel.
First, he started with two characters: White and Black. White was a good character with a strong inclination toward justice, and who was also a respected figure of society while maintaining a stable social position. Black, on the other hand, was a bad character with a strong inclination toward evil. Dominant and possessing deep-seated insecurities, Black tended to get excited at the sight of fire.
The two characters were mere emotions, divided only by their names, White and Black. They lived deep within a person’s heart as simple lumps of feelings, coexisting and competing. The results, never permanent, were ever-changing.
That was the very challenge Juho had been facing: to remove all humanity from the characters while simultaneously having them look like humans on the surface. At which point, the readers would be left only with chaos and an arbitrary understanding of those characters, and that was exactly what Juho wanted.
There were a total of eight suspects, and Juho had removed all the unnecessary components getting to that point. From their parents to their siblings and friends, the young author had isolated everyone who knew White and Black from them. The objects that would prove the identity of the culprit had lost their credibility, and the witnesses themselves no longer had any power in their words. Without understanding the true nature of the game they were playing, everyone in the novel focused on the meaningless search for a thief never to be sought by the cruel, unfair world.
Although the characters each fought desperately in order to make themselves known to each other, they each had priorities of their own and, over time, they came to realize how weak they had been in their process of trying to prove themselves.
Although having loved shrimp as a child, the culprit eventually developed a shrimp allergy as an adult. He had underwent a double-eyelid surgery at the age of twenty and had conflicting memories of his first kiss, unable to decide if it took place in front of his house or under a tree at a park. The man had no idea why he had to be born or to die, or where his life was heading.
However, if his significant other were to appear before his eyes and tell him that their first kiss had been at the beach, he wouldn’t hesitate to abandon his vague memories and nod in agreement with her, saying, “Yeah, that’s right. I remember how gorgeous that beach was.”
As if practicing, Juho wrote away on his paper, giving new shape to the lump of clay he had gotten hold of previously and leaving a new set of fingerprints, which were different from the preexisting ones.
Writing a story of such nature tended to suck the author in, and Juho had to remind himself, ‘I am me, and nobody can change that, no matter what they say.’ It was an unshakeable belief, which called for no evidence or witness in order to prove its validity. Whether it was trouble or happiness, every part of his life belonged to him, and he had no intention of handing it over to another person.
“Oh, this is good!”
“I saw it at a shop that just opened up near my place. I’ll take you there one of these days.”
It was a snack that Bom had brought out. Juho, too, took a piece of the chocolate covered in cocoa powder and brought it up to his mouth. It was delightful. If he were to find out that such happiness belonged to another person, Juho wouldn’t forgive them… no matter who they were.
“Uh-oh. You dropped it.”
“Hey! Your manuscript!”
Knowing that the manuscript was none other than Yun Woo’s, the club members all made a fuss. However, Juho himself looked at the paper indifferently, certain that the culprit in his novel wouldn’t forgive him for the dark chocolate stain on the manuscript paper.
“Yo! You call yourself an author!? Have some respect for your work!” brushing the cocoa powder off of the pages as if it were a treasure box, Seo Kwang criticized Juho. Then, he stared intently at the letters that filed the manuscript paper and asked, “Which language is this written in?”
“I don’t have a name for it.”
It was a language that Juho had made up, and Juho asked light-heartedly, “Why? Are you curious about the content? Would you like to know?”
“Oh, no, no, no,” Seo Kwang declined emphatically while still keeping his eyes fixed on the manuscript. “You said you’re near the end, right? Does that mean it’s gonna be published, soon?”
“I can’t promise that.”
Just as Juho had said, there was no promise. Writing in two distinctively styles was much more difficult than one would imagine. Of course, writing two separate stories in different styles was not an issue, but the risk was when they both existed in the same manuscript. There was no way to predict what would happen.
While it would be a success if readers were to find it original and shocking, it would be a failure if the difference in the styles disrupted the reading experience. If the two coexisting styles were to create a sense of disconnect, Juho would be better off not gambling. There was simply too much at stake. He would risk ruining the overall plot and flow of the story during the transitions of the styles. Although it would be in his best interest to keep the contrast of the two styles somewhere between discomfort and a sense of escalation, Juho wanted to get as close as possible at the most sensitive places.
Unfortunately, writing often left no time for such intricate calculations. In the end, an author had to write a large amount and often try a number of times. Then, revisions would follow. With hope that it would be refined to its most ideal shape possible, Juho kept writing.
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