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This chapter is updated by Wuxia.Blog
Translated by: ShawnSuh
Edited by: SootyOwl
The crowd behind the cameras started whispering to each other, and to make sure he was grasping the young author’s answer thoroughly, the host asked again, “You mean you only competed in contests that you could give up the award?”
“Right. Where the winner gets disqualified if they’re not present at the award ceremony.”
“That sounds to me as though you were open to the possibility of winning. Did you ever think that you might win?”
“I did, just like every other contestant,” Juho added calmly.
As long as one decided to compete, there was a chance to win.
“What were some of the awards that you gave up on?”
The questions were becoming more and more specific. Then, along with the name of the contest, Juho answered, “The first place.” At which point, the host emphasized that it was the highest possible award in an essay contest.
“Were you hesitant to give up on those awards at all?”
“It didn’t bother you at all?”
“As far as awards are concerned, no.”
“How many awards have you given up so far?”
Juho saw the crowd of employees who were visiting the set to watch the taping. Among them, had to be those who thought: ‘What else could it be? He just fell short. Yun Woo still has a ways to go. He’s young and inexperienced.’
“One,” the young author said.
“Yes. There was only one that I gave up of my own accord.”
It was more than enough to shake the crowd. While they were busy going back and forth between trust and doubt, the host remained unaffected and asked, “Does that mean there were other reasons that made you unable to win the other contests?”
“They’re inherently different contests, so the situations were also inherently different.”
As Juho gave him a nod, the host calmly moved on with the interview.
“So, it’s clear that your record thus far was the fruition of your intended plan. It appears to me that you weren’t after the awards after all.”
“Not at all.”
“Then, I have to ask. Why did you compete in those contests? Most people usually compete for the award.”
‘Why did I compete?’ Juho thought. Then, remembering his very first essay contest, he said, “There were a number of reasons, but at the end of the day, I competed because I wanted to.”
“You wanted to?”
“I just wanted the experience. I was more interested in the contests themselves than their awards.”
“What about those contests caught your interest?”
“I wasn’t used to the idea of writing as part of a big group.”
The idea had been so foreign to the young author that it disrupted his thought process during the contest. Although Pyung Jin seemed like he wanted to hear more about it, the host decided to approach the interview from a slightly different angle. Meanwhile, the crowd had come closer to the set in order to listen better.
“Then, does that mean you find enough satisfaction just in the fact that you competed in a contest? You even gave up on the awards, didn’t you? Frankly, I’m finding myself at a bit of a loss.”
Then, Juho shook his head and said, “Of course. That isn’t to say that I came home empty-handed.”
“What did you get out of those experiences then? The host asked without hesitation.
“Lots of things. I learned that there are a lot of really talented writers out there, and that the idea of writing in a group was foreign to me. I also learned just how delightful it is to write outdoors.”
With that, the young author looked at the crowd surrounding the set along with the cameras. There had always been doubt about his skill as an author, and Juho remembered when those doubts had been true. He had been perpetually anxious and sitting for an interview like that would have been unthinkable back then. He had had nothing to say, and the only thing he had been able offer his readers had been disappointment.
“Oh, there is one more thing I got out of those experiences.”
However, things were different now. The young author was better equipped with the experience he had accrued. He could afford to tell a story or two that would prove his readers wrong.
“I wrote the ending to one of my books during a contest. Have you heard of a book by the name of ‘Sound of Wailing?'”
“The ending to ‘Sound of Wailing?!'” the critic let out, taken aback by what he had heard.
“My first contest experience was during the time when I was planning for my second book, remember? I was a freshman back then.”
Then, the host asked Juho in order to make sure that he had understood the young author accurately, “When you say you ‘wrote,’ that means you actually wrote the ending of the book in that setting, correct?”
“That’s right. I happened to have a pen and some manuscript paper on me, conveniently.”
“What’s the word I’m looking for… Plot? Was it? So, you weren’t just thinking of an idea for your book?”
“The book was still in its early stages. The manuscript has gone through a number of revisions since then.”
At that, the critic smiled, impressed, and the host kept on with the questions.
“Aren’t you given a specific topic or set of topics at an essay contest?”
“That’s right. Which is precisely why I was disqualified.”
“When you say the ending to ‘Sound of Wailing,’ you’re talking about that scene where the protagonist goes out to meet her son, right?”
“Yes. Seems like you’ve read the book.”
“I sure have. It came out even before the hype for ‘Trace of a Bird’ died down. Not only that, but the content carried a completely different feel from its predecessor. I gotta say, it was quite remarkable.”
Most of the viewers could still recall their experiences with the book. Then, Pyung Jin spoke up, “I think I’m starting to get why you couldn’t win those awards, Mr. Woo.”
Because a contest was a means of determining a rank, there were always standards by which the competitors had to abide, and failure to abide by those standards meant disqualification from the contest, even for Yun Woo.
“From what I’ve noticed, most people who don’t write within the given standards of the contest seem to end up either really making it or seriously breaking it. But you, Mr. Woo, seem to be an exception to that.”
Then, avoiding a direct answer, Juho said, “A lot of people seem to think that I competed in like twenty different competitions. The truth is, I didn’t even compete in half that. Maybe one competition a year, on average.”
With that, the young author successfully explained himself, and a sigh of relief sounded from somewhere. As the crowd took a step back in accordance to one of the staff member’s instructions, Juho saw that they had a look of trust on their faces. Then, everyone acted accordingly, as if trying to move on from the case that had been solved.
“All right. So we’ve discussed the recent controversies surrounding Mr. Woo and his record of awards. Let’s move on to the next portion. Mr. Woo, we have something special for our viewers here. It’s something relevant to Mr. Woo’s school life,” the host said, changing the subject to Juho’s school life. There was a newspaper in his hand, but there was something different about it. It had been published by the school. With his eyes on the newspaper, the host asked, “So, this is your school’s newspaper, which you brought with you, right?”
“Yes. They’re hard to come by outside of my school.”
“From what I heard, before your identity was known, you used to write in your school’s Literature Club under the name Juho Woo, and you were interviewed at your school regarding that matter. And this newspaper contains that very interview. Would you care to tell us a little bit about this newspaper?” the host said, and Juho answered that he had participated in an interview that had been planned by his school’s Newspaper Club in light of the school festival.
“So, I suppose that means this isn’t your first interview, technically?”
“It would be the first as Yun Woo.”
“I have to be honest with you. I wasn’t getting the impression that it was your first time speaking in front of a camera. You’re a good speaker, Mr. Woo.”
After the long and fierce set of questions, the atmosphere eased up. And, as if enough had been said, the host moved on to the newspaper, starting a whole new conversation regarding Yun Woo’s two hidden short stories.
“As far as we know, our understanding is that you’ve published two short stories as Juho Woo.”
“Yes, that is correct. They’re both being exhibited at my school. Although I don’t know if published would be an appropriate word to use in this context.”
Juho felt the critic’s piercing gaze on his face. The light reflecting from the stones on his tie were hurting the young author’s eyes. Meanwhile, the host struck up a conversation with the critic.
“So, we read the newspaper ahead of time, and we learned that the conversation that took place was quite sophisticated. Even the journalists in the literature department were impressed.”
“Thank you,” Juho said, thinking that the monkey would be delighted to hear those words.
“Mr. Lee, why don’t you give us a brief synopsis of the short story?”
With that, the critic started telling a concise summary of the plot of ‘Grains of Sand,’ all the while looking straight at the young author.
“The plot’s quite simple. It’s about a woman who goes to the beach to see the ocean. She decides to go out when she receives a set of new clothes as a gift. Now, what’s interesting here is that there’s no dialogue in the piece whatsoever. Although it’s been done before by other writers, it’s gotta be the first time seeing it in Mr. Woo’s writing.”
Then, he asked, “What was your reason for leaving dialogues out?”
“She’s not the talkative type.”
“It seemed to me that the story centers around the theme of change. Is that right?”
“Yes. It’s a story about somebody wishing that things would stay the same as they are forever,” Juho said briefly and after a brief pause, the critic asked, “Did you use a different writing style?”
Those who had read Yun Woo’s writing were bound to catch on to the meaning behind the question immediately. Looking at the nervous critic, Juho said, “I’m sure you’ve seen it elsewhere.”
The young author had already revealed his entire arsenal of writing styles. Then, just as the critic, who caught on to the young author’s attempt to weave his way out with an ambiguous answer, was about to speak, the host stepped in to mediate, “I’m sure ‘change’ is a topic with which all fans of Yun Woo would be familiar. My understanding is that you talked about it in ‘Language of God’ as well.”
“‘Language of God’ is a story about change-in-progress.”
“Was the book about the same topic?”
“They’re polar opposites, I’m afraid. The only thing the two pieces have in common is the time when they were written.”
“Oh! You mean you wrote them at the same time?”
“The ideas came to me at the same time. I thought about which one to write first for a little while, but I just decided to write them together.”
At that, Juho noticed that the host was taking more interest. ‘Language of God’ had been the book to take Yun Woo out to the world, and it was also the book that appealed to the masses the most.
“So, you CAN write two stories at the same time, huh?” the host asked with a surprised look on his face. It was only natural when considering how complicated and technical it sounded on the surface. Although it wasn’t exactly easy to execute, there were authors who preferred to write in that manner.
“Does that mean the two are connected somehow since you wrote them at the same time?”
“There’s no direct correlation, but there are similarities in terms of the settings. Siblings, if you will. While they are each unique to themselves, they do share some similarities,” Juho said. Meanwhile, the scenery of the beach rushed past his mind, along with the two characters who were just the opposite of each other. They had despised each other.
“I mentioned how I came about writing ‘Language of God’ in one of the award ceremonies recently. Are you aware of this?”
To be accurate, it was Kelley Coin who mentioned it. As if thinking the same thing, an ambiguous expression appeared on the host’s face.
“Yes, I am. You said you followed your fellow author’s advice and made a spontaneous trip to the beach, which is where you thought of the plot for the two stories.”
At that moment, the critic interjected subtly, asking, “Is that the same beach as the one you mentioned in the interview in the newspaper?”
Juho answered Pyung Jin’s simple inference affirmatively.
“I’m not gonna lie, that sounds incredibly tempting. Do you think we can expect that piece to be published in the near future?”
Then, looking at the critic, whose face was filled with anticipation, the young author said, “I highly doubt it.”
“And why is that?”
The young author shrugged at the critic’s unexpectedly emphatic response. At the end of the day, ‘Grains of Sand’ was a piece written by Juho Woo, not Yun Woo.
“I think it’s a piece that should stay in a school and I think that’s just where it belongs.”
“No, no. That’s now true at all!” the critic let out in order to convince the young author, and as the discussion dragged on, the host interjected, “Now, now. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves just yet. There’s yet another piece that we most likely will never come across. ‘Fingernails,’ was it?”
“Yes. I wrote it fairly recently, as a junior.”
Then, Juho gave a brief synopsis of the piece. It was about a narrator with a strange obsession for fingernails.
“It’s a story that jumps back and forth between the protagonist’s past memories as a student and her present as an office worker. Oh, it’s also a short story.”
With that, Juho thought of the cover designer, who he had observed from afar: Jung Eun Kong. He distinctively recalled her colorful nails.
“I wrote a book by the title of ‘Sublimation.'”
“Yes, I know this book,” the host said.
“We had to spend a little more time on the cover design than usual. ‘Fingernails’ was influenced by a certain event that occurred during that time.”
Pyung Jin sighed quietly. Every single word said by the young author had been provoking his possessive nature. Writing styles, ‘Language of God,’ ‘Sublimation,’ and a certain event. Like most critics tended to be, Pyung Jin, overcome with the desire to read, asked the young author desperately, “Where can I get myself a copy of ‘Fingernails?'”
To which, Juho gave a cruel answer, “You won’t find it in stores.”
Then, studying the reaction of the host, the critic, the filming crew and the visitors, the young author said, “I’m sure the viewers who see this will share your feelings, Mr. Lee.”
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