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This chapter is updated by Wuxia.Blog
Translated by: ShawnSuh
Edited by: SootyOwl
Avoiding the piercing glare from his editor-in-charge, Juho went to the kitchen. As the host, he had to treat his guest to something. As he took the special cups out of the cupboard, Juho asked, “I only have instant coffee. Would you prefer green tea?”
Although Juho normally drank green tea, he chose to drink coffee that day instead in order to wake himself up. While Nam Kyung moved through the sheets of manuscript paper cautiously, like he would with precious jewelry, Juho came out of the kitchen with the two cups of coffee and kicked the sheets of manuscript paper aside on his way to the couch. Then, pushing the stacks of manuscript paper on the table to the side, the young author placed the two cups on the table and handed the editor a cushion.
“Thanks,” Nam Kyung said, taking a sip of the instant coffee while reading a page of the manuscript that he had chosen at random. Juho drank his coffee quietly and focused on waking up.
“What do you think?” he asked the editor, looking at him with dry, disinterested eyes.
“It pains me to think that all of these pages are going to waste. These are incredible. They’re like unrefined precious gems that would sparkle like no other after some slight refinement,” Nam Kyung said, clearly sounding like he was suppressing his emotions. “Really? You’re laughing?”
“Yeah, I can’t help myself. I wish new ideas for my story were coming out instead of the laughter,” Juho said. Although he was perfectly capable of laughing, he hadn’t made any progress with the new story for nearly a month.
When the editor had first found out, he had said, “That’s very unusual for Yun Woo.”
The image of the editor’s serious look on his face rushed past the young author’s mind. However, Nam Kyung was sure that Juho was still capable of writing. While Juho thought of that, Nam Kyung had about twenty pages of manuscript paper in his hands. Although he wasn’t clear about what he was reading, one thing was certain: the pages were much darker than the new story.
“‘Full Moon,’ huh,” Nam Kyung murmured. By that point, he had heard about the plot of the book from the young author.
“Mr. Lim’s new book’s been getting recognized by both readers and critics alike,” he said. Nam Kyung had also read the book, and there was no doubt that it was worthy of being considered the literary great’s best work yet.
“I mean, he did say that he wrote it with Mr. Kang in mind,” the editor murmured. Wol Kang. He was Yun Seo Baek’s late husband and their longtime friend.
“He left us way too soon,” Nam Kyung said, like anybody who knew the author would have. Wol had passed away much too soon, and the short life he had dedicated to writing still remained in the hearts of his readers and fellow authors.
“He was one of the greatest authors this country had to offer,” the editor murmured, brushing his hand down the stack of manuscript paper he was holding. At that, Juho leaned his head back against the backrest of the couch. There were times when Juho wished that the author were still alive, writing new books.
“Anyway,” Nam Kyung said with a clap, changing the subject. As sentimental it might have been, Wol wasn’t the most pressing matter at the moment. Rather, it was the young author’s progress and thinking of ways to improve it.
“Well, how are things looking?” Nam Kyung asked, and…
“How does it look?” Juho asked back, eying the pages in the editor’s hands. Then, thinking back to what he had been reading up to that point, the editor said, “It feels like the ideas are getting darker.”
“I think so too.”
At that, Nam Kyung’s hand went up to his forehead. Since reading ‘Full Moon,’ Juho had been in a gloomy state of mind, making him more inclined to write darker things. The novel still lingered in his mind, popping up when he least expected.
“Mr. Woo. Have you ever considered taking a slightly different approach with this project?”
“No,” Juho said. He insisted on the protagonist living in a bright and cheerful world. Besides, Nam Kyung’s suggestion wasn’t coming from a serious place, either.
“Then, how much longer do you think it’ll be until you can start writing something more uplifting?”
“It’s hard to say.”
At the young author’s ambiguous answer, the expression on Nam Kyung’s face grew even darker, which reminded Juho of Mr. Moon. When he had first joined the Literature Club, Juho hadn’t been used to writing alongside other people. Not only had it been noisy, but it had also been incredibly distracting, which had caused him to lose his train of thought and finish his stories prematurely with absurd endings. Back then, Mr. Moon had given the young author the exact same look that Nam Kyung had currently.
“Hey! This isn’t funny! I mean it!” Nam Kyung said desperately, concerned about whether the young author was starting to fall apart from within. As if trying to comfort his editor-in-charge, Juho said, “It won’t last forever.”
… Which seemed to be of little help. Sighing deeply, the editor picked up another sheet of manuscript paper next to him and read it, only to sigh even deeper. They were simply too good. The sentences were superb, and although they were short, the editor was able to feel the power they carried. From his point of view, Yun Woo was in his best condition yet, and the fact that he was able to write as much as he had was proof of that. At the same time, it pained him all the more that all of those pages were going to waste. It drove him nearly insane. With the much anticipated short stories by Yun Woo and the half-length novel that would be introduced alongside them, Yun Woo’s distinct, pure writing style, which was missed desperately by readers, including Nam Kyung, was finally going to make a comeback. Yet, why the young author wasn’t making any progress was still a mystery to the editor, especially considering the state in which the author was. On top of that, the plot was also outstanding. The fierceness of the children. The foolishness of the adults. The young maturely carrying out their innocent thoughts. Characters with distinct personalities. A bright and cheerful world. The story’s message to future society. It had to be Yun Woo’s most diverse and elaborate work yet.
“Look how far you’ve come,” Nam Kyung said. When he read Juho’s work-in-progress, the editor had found it quite convincing. Alexandria was the protagonist’s name. After hearing about a city, which had first been built by Alexander the Great, called by the same name in Egypt in some documentary on TV, the protagonist realized that it had a pleasant ring to it. From then on, she wished to be called Alexandria by others, and her wish had come true.
“Are you just gonna leave Alexandria hanging like that?” Nam Kyung said desperately.
At that, scratching his cheek, Juho answered, “She’s a tough cookie. She’ll do just fine on her own, even if I were to leave her alone for a little while.”
Nam Kyung wasn’t buying the young author’s answer. Meanwhile, Juho rested his chin on his hand.
“I just can’t seem to find the right mood.”
Furrowing his brow at Juho’s ambiguous answer, Nam Kyung asked, “As in… the right mood to write?”
“Yes. The right mood to write about Alexandria. Otherwise, my house wouldn’t look like this.”
There had been a significant amount of time between when he picked up the pen, put it down, and picked it up again. Time tended to create a gap. His old self that had written and his current self that was writing. It all felt different.
“That does happen,” Nam Kyung said, nodding in agreement. Every author had their own way of filling that gap created by time, and it usually involved reading everything they had written up to the point they had stopped, or recreating the emotional state they had been in when they first started writing through meditation or music.
“Thing is, I just can’t seem to figure it out,” Juho said.
“Figure out what?”
“How I was feeling before I started reading ‘The Full Moon.'”
Juho did recall having bought the book from the biggest bookstore in the area. However, he couldn’t remember the excitement he had felt when he bought the book or why he had thought to himself that the book was only a keepsakes when he would eventually give in and read through the entire book in one sitting. He couldn’t figure out a way to revert back to his emotional state before reading ‘The Full Moon.’ He couldn’t go back to his old self, before he learned about astronomy, when he had no interest in the subject whatsoever.
“I even tried writing some really dark stories just so that I could remember.”
However, the more the young author tried, the further he got from Alexandria. It was quite ironic. A troubled look appeared on Nam Kyung’s face. There was only so much he could do to help as an editor. After some thought, he looked up, struck by an idea.
“What if you go on a trip? You know, for a change of pace?”
“When I’m still in the middle of writing, though?”
“I just thought I should bring it up. I was told that Mr. Uhm’s leaving for a trip too. Did you know about this?”
“No. Where’s he going?” Juho asked. It was news to him. As he was busy thinking about whether Dong Gil was going somewhere local or to another country, the editor gave him the answer as he pulled his glasses up, “Russia.”
“He’s going for research purposes. You know his style.”
When discussing Dong Gil’s writing, Hemingway was a name that was bound to come up at some point. Dong Gil preferred to infuse his own experience into his novel in the most realistic way possible. He believed that that was the most honest way of going about writing a piece that was as close to the truth as it could be. Being an introspective person, he liked to write things down, and his pursuit of the objective truth had put him on the crossroad between pursuing a career as a journalist or a writer. Yet, to the young author’s surprise, Dong Gil was making a trip to Russia in order to gather more data for his book.
“What kind of book is he writing?”
“I don’t know the details, but it seems like there is something he wants to experience in Russia.”
“How long do you think he’ll stay there?”
“Considering his personality, I’m guessing a month, at least.”
Then, as Juho was about to ask more about Dong Gil, Nam Kyung raised his hand and stopped the young author from doing so, saying, “Like I said, I don’t have all the details, so I would suggest asking him directly.”
Frankly, Juho wasn’t in the most sociable mood because of his lack of progress with Alexandria’s story. However, the young author was still curious if Dong Gil had read ‘The Full Moon,’ which had been written by one of the authors he looked up to the most. Then, when Juho picked up his cup in order to drink from it, he realized that it was empty. There was sweetness from the instant coffee still lingering in his mouth, which was making him thirsty.
“I could use a drink.
The urge to drink had started to tempt the young author, making him think that alcohol would put an end to his predicament once and for all. Then, the memories of his past came up in his mind, reminding him of how he had started drinking the first place. It had been an impulsive decision, and he had been in a similar place emotionally. ‘I guess I’m just naturally impulsive,” Juho thought to himself. As Nam Kyung contemplated whether he should talk the young author out of drinking or not, Juho said, “I’m not going to. Don’t worry.”
“Well, it might not be a terrible idea. You might feel a little better after a drink,” the editor said. There were times when alcohol provided momentum for authors. Humans were fragile beings that often got hurt easily by the smallest things in life, and there were times when alcohol was a means of healing those wounds. However, Juho thought otherwise.
“That won’t be necessary. I threw all the alcohol in the house out,” he said. Just as he had said, the young author had thrown out every bit of alcohol in his house just in case he gave in to his urges. Water, tea, and coffee were just about the only things to drink in his house. At that, Nam Kyung looked intently at Juho with narrowed eyes and asked, “You know what? I noticed that you keep yourself away from alcohol in particular. I got that impression during the interview too.”
“It just doesn’t taste good,” Juho said. With that, having no intention of commenting on the young author’s taste preferences, Nam Kyung didn’t make any more comments, still looking somewhat leery.
“Oh, well. Authors tend to have that one thing they obsess over,” Nam Kyung said, shrugging it off. Then, he started picking up the pages of manuscript paper scattered about the house.
“Keep them somewhere. We might be able to use one of these for the short story compilation,” Nam Kyung said.
“I doubt that.”
“Well, you never know. There are fans who are particularly fond of your short stories. They still remember what ‘River’ was like,” the editor said. After staring at him for a brief moment, Juho bent down at the waist and picked up a page of a manuscript under his foot. Upon reading it, the young author realized that it wasn’t actually half bad, and with slight refinement, it would be more than good enough to be published. Unfortunately, the content was much too dark. The story was about catastrophe and destruction, which was far from what the young author had been looking for.
As he organized the pages with his editor’s help, a book that had been buried under the layers of manuscript paper appeared. It was none other than ‘The Full Moon.’ At that, a subtle smile appeared on the young author’s face. Deep inside, what he really wanted was to be able to write a story like that of Hyun Do’s new book. In simple terms, he had been influenced by the book, intoxicated by it, and wanted more of it.
“Seems like I got my butt handed to me.”
“By Mr. Lim.”
At that, the editor smiled bitterly and said, “Well, it seems like his new book has that effect. I practically forgot about my work while I was reading it.”
“That almost sounds excessive,” Juho said.
To which, Nam Kyung replied with the bitter expression on his face, “… After reading ‘The Full Moon,’ I just couldn’t bear to read sentences written by some rookie author.”
“So, what did you do?”
“I went back and read the manuscript again a week later.”
“And what happened?”
Instead of giving an answer, Nam Kyung showed him his hands, which were empty. The contract had fallen through, and the manuscript never got made into a book.
“I see,” Juho said, looking down at the empty cup in his hand, without anything in particular to say.
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