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This chapter is updated by Wuxia.Blog
Translated by: ShawnSuh
Edited by: SootyOwl
The three authors conversed candidly, and the atmosphere repeated the pattern of gradually building up and subsiding as the subject changed through the course of their meal. By the time Yun Seo had had her third glass of wine, Hyun Do two glasses of water, and Juho two cups of soda, the conversation took a turn and put the spotlight on the young author.
“That ending was superb,” Yun Seo said, looking like she was drunk from the atmosphere rather than the wine. As she looked at Juho, there was not a tinge of red on her face.
“Some of the older authors I know were all astonished,” she said, moving on to telling him about the conversations that had taken place at official events or at offices about ‘Sublimation.’ Although they had been mostly positive, there had been those who were doubtful of the young author. Then, bursting into laughter out of nowhere, Yun Seo said, “Boy, the look on this man’s face right here. He looked so bored! Your name came up during my book release event, and he was the only person sitting there quietly, not saying a word. If anything, he stood out.”
At Yun Seo poking fun at him, Hyun Do added indifferently, “Everyone was talking about the ending of the book. I was bored, that’s all.”
“But it was worth getting that much attention.”
“Which is why I sat there quietly.”
Then, as if she had been reminded of that image of Hyun Do, Yun Seo burst into laughter again. Juho turned to the literary great, who was enjoying his meal quietly. Unlike all the other authors he had met, Hyun Do didn’t ask questions about his writings style, let alone doubt him.
“Why aren’t you asking me?”
“Asking you what?”
“About my writing style.”
Hyun Do brushed his gray hair back. Although Juho’s writing had been causing a ruckus, it seemed to have had no impact on the literary great. If anything, Hyun Do seemed like he had silenced it as gracefully as ever. Yun Seo was the same way. No matter how many of her pupils abandoned her, she kept her place There was an undeniable gap between the young author and the two, significantly older authors. Juho knew that he was far from reaching their level, and Hyun Do’s calm voice was only further proof of that.
Just like Hyun Do had said, nothing was going to change, even if the literary great were to ask the young author about his controversial writing style. Hyun Do had already established a world of his own, which was like a tightly-shut gate that couldn’t be opened from the outside.
“… Aren’t you curious?”
“I’m old enough to not let my curiosity get the best of me.”
“That sounds like you are curious.”
At that, a corner of Hyun Do’s mouth turned up, and what seemed like dimples appeared on his face.
“At the end of the day, I’m an author myself.”
At his answer, the faces of some of the most aggressive writers rushed past Juho’s mind. They were willing to do just about anything in order to acquire what they wanted. Some never left their rooms for years on end, while others put themselves through the trouble of making lists about themselves in order to understand themselves better. Some acted out the scenes they were writing, even at the cost of making fools of themselves, while others went as far as digging deep into some of the most gruesome data for the sake of understanding their topics better. Likewise, the older gentleman sitting before Juho’s eyes couldn’t be any different.
Then, catching on to what Juho was thinking, Hyun Do said, “You know, I’ve never killed a person.”
“I’m sure you haven’t.”
“But I do have experience writing about it.”
Juho understood what Hyun Do was saying from that sentence alone.
“I know that I can’t do everything. There are foods that I can’t eat, as well as foods that I hate.”
“Do you ever force yourself to eat them?”
“No, there’s no reason.”
Children often found certain foods repulsive, even without having tasted them before. It was possible to imagine what the food was going to taste like. It was possible to predict the taste, fear it, and even grow fond of it.
“I, personally, ask questions after I write. For example, a homeless man. I ask him if they find what I wrote about them offensive.”
Then, Juho put himself in the position of the homeless man Hyun Do was talking about. Having first-hand experience with being homeless, it wasn’t all that difficult to do so. As far as he could tell, he would have burst out laughing or crying. Either way, he wouldn’t have been able to keep his calm. He would have murmured, ‘Here’s yet another wretched life,’ and gone to the bookstore to fetch a book without anyone knowing afterwards.
“If I were to write about you, it wouldn’t be until I’d written however I saw fit that I would ask you any questions.”
“And I’m sure I’d be taken aback after seeing how little difference there would be between your writing and reality.”
Despite Juho’s answer, there was no change in the expression on Hyun Do’s face.
“I’m much more interested in what kind of piece you’ll come up with than how you go about writing it. And even more so, what kind of piece I’ll come up with.”
At that, Juho felt like he’d gotten a glimpse of desire hidden deep within the literary great and his bottomless, serene eyes. It was the desire to write better than anyone else. Upon that realization, the elements that made the literary great who he was began to waver, including his grey hair and his straight posture.
“You’ve been working on something.”
“I sure have.”
Hyun Do was also an author, after all. He wasn’t in the habit of wandering and he was different from those who couldn’t write a single word after reading Juho’s writing. No matter what he read, including ‘River,’ ‘Sublimation,’ and all of the articles on the Nebula and Hugo Awards, Hyun Do simply wrote away. Juho looked at him attentively, feeling a faint desire to write, and thinking, secretly, that he wanted to see his own writing cause more of a ruckus. Juho’s singing was boisterous, and he imagined the literary great humming along with his tune.
“Hey, wake up.”
Upon feeling a blow to his back, Juho heard a voice waking him up. Then, rubbing his back, he opened his eyes and saw Sun Hwa in front of him.
Still half asleep, Juho brushed his face, and as he packed his bag in a daze, Sun Hwa, who had already packed up, stared intently at him.
“Is there something you wanna say?”
“Have you been writing?”
“I write every day.”
“No, no. C’mon, you know what I mean.”
“It can’t hurt to be elaborate. That way, there’s nothing to misunderstand.”
At Juho’s response, Sun Hwa’s distinctively confident eyes turned up. As of late, her eyes had been downcast with worry. Therefore, the fact that there was a change in her appearance meant that she had made a breakthrough, somehow.
“Whenever you stay up writing, you always come out with a new book. So, I’m just asking if that’s what you’re doing lately.”
Exactly like Sun Hwa was thinking, Juho had written the night before.
“I wanted to get the one that’s due out of the way.”
“We have an assignment due?”
“For the Literature Club?”
“Ah, right,” Sun Hwa said, nodding. They were working on their last pieces as members of the Literature Club before graduating, and rightfully, Sun Hwa was putting her heart and soul into developing the plot of her story.
“You’re already done, huh?”
“It’s not finished, technically.”
“Hey, I haven’t even started.”
Then, Juho changed the subject, “Speaking of which, you seem to be in a better mood lately. What’s new?”
“There is something new, indeed,” she said with a bright smile. “One of my favorite comic artists released a new series.”
“Well, ain’t that something to celebrate?!”
“And I finally thought of what I might wanna do.”
That had to be the real reason. Juho looked her, smiling brightly.
“That’s also something to celebrate. What is it?”
Then, twisting her body bashfully, she said quietly, “Teaching.”
“You don’t seem surprised,” Sun Hwa said with a sullen look on her face. To be frank, Juho had had an idea for some time. Her appearance had changed when Mr. Moon started offering so-called advice to the club members, calling it self-gratification. Juho had observed his clubmates then, and he saw Sun Hwa’s eyes sparkling with motivation. She had actually been comforted by the words that had come out of the eccentric teacher.
“It’s nothing to be surprised about.”
Juho imagined the timid junior, frivolously congratulating Sun Hwa. With a faint chuckle, they headed to the science room. The others had already arrived there.
“What you got there?” the twins asked as Juho took a bundle of manuscript paper out of his bag. While Gong Pal was holding a portable gaming console in his hand, Gong Il, his twin sister, was holding a book on sex life.
“It’s a piece that I might end up submitting for the exhibition.”
At that moment, Bo Suk also approached them, her eyes sparkling with interest.
“I guess that means the piece about fingernails will stay a failure, huh?”
No matter how hard he tried to salvage it, a failure was a failure. Just as time was irreversible, failures were the same way, and they remained and were piled as they were: failures. However, as those failures stacked on top of each other, they became experience, and eventually, standards.
“I guess even somebody like you struggles.”
At that, Juho waved his sheets of manuscript paper and said, “And that failure is all in here.”
“I wanna read it first,” the twins said simultaneously and locked eyes with each other, their eyes burning ever more fiercely than ever.
“Don’t get ahead of yourselves, now. It’s not even finished yet. Besides, Mr. Moon’s always the first person to read our stories.”
“But the manuscript is packed to the brim with words.”
“I’ve said this before, but a piece of writing isn’t finished until it’s been revised.”
“First a failure, and now, revision. Even somebody like you,” the twins murmured simultaneously, and Seo Kwang interjected, finding it all too entertaining.
“I’m sure Yun Woo goes through the same, exact process when he writes.”
After Seo Kwang’s unnecessary remark, Juho changed the subject, “If you wanna enjoy my writing to the its full extent, then I advise you two to work on your patience. They say that hunger is the best seasoning.”
“All right,” the twins answered, obviously reluctant. However, there was still some time until the club activities officially started. Just as Juho was about to look through his manuscript, he heard the twins talking to each other, “You know about Yun Woo winning the Nebula Award, right?”
Despite the ear-catching subject, Juho kept his eyes fixed on his manuscript. His clubmates were also doing the same thing, but they couldn’t prevent things from getting awkward.
“I wonder what he’s doing, now,” Gong Pal said, and his twin sister sympathized, “Yeah, seriously. I heard people saying that he’s in another country, staying with Kelley Coin.”
“I don’t know. I saw some blog that had all the theories on Yun Woo put together, and you know what? They were actually pretty convincing! There are even people saying that Yun Woo was actually at the ceremony. There was someone Asian who got caught on camera, and they looked super young.”
“An article came out today about that. She was from a publishing company.”
“Ohhh, is that right?” Seo Kwang interfered. And correcting their misinformation, the twins nodded.
“I saw a clip of an interview of Yun Woo’s… publishing agent, was it? Anyway, I came across a video of her being interviewed in another country, and she didn’t mention anything about Yun Woo, either, saying that she might lose her job if she were to let anything that had to do with him out.”
Juho had never heard about that. From the sound of it, Nabi was going around telling vicious jokes.
“Wouldn’t somebody like Yun Woo have the power to replace his publishing agent at the snap of a finger?”
“I mean, he’s world-famous, so I’m sure that’s nothing to him. But I didn’t know authors worked with agents.”
What had started off as a joke had turned into something completely different. Gong Il’s information was mostly wrong, and Gong Pal was only making matters worse by puffing it up, without even a trace of doubt. It was a common occurrence within conversations about celebrities.
“So, there’s someone I know in a publishing company,” Juho said, looking away from his manuscript, and the twins reacted at the blink of an eye.
“You guys remember hearing from Bo Suk when we were going around school advertising that we get a lot of news about Yun Woo quickly.”
“So that’s what she meant,” the twins let out, catching on to the situation. Soon, they asked with anticipation, “Have you heard anything new since then? What’s he doing?”
Before giving them an answer, Juho paused in order to choose the right words in his mind. Then, looking at his manuscript before his eyes, he was reminded of his reality as an author, writing through failure after failure. After he started writing, the young author met someone who wasn’t affected by his writing, and he also met someone who gave up the dreams they’d been fighting for. Juho realized just how powerful and influential the small trophy could be when attached to a book and the effect it had on the preexisting prejudice and assumptions surrounding him, making them grow even more. It was both colorful and well decorated, but at the same time, it was flippant and imprudent. Even then, it was mildly entertaining.
“Nothing all that special, just…”
“Just going about his daily life, eating three meals a day.”
What had changed hadn’t been himself. Rather, it had been the situation he was in. Then, the twins caused an exasperated commotion, saying that anybody could’ve said what he said.
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