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This chapter is updated by Wuxia.Blog
Translated by: ShawnSuh
Edited by: SootyOwl
That day, the elevator felt like it was moving faster than usual. As Nam Kyung walked toward the young author’s apartment, his footsteps echoed through the hallway. Then, after he rang the doorbell upon arrival, the sound of a lock disengaging came from the door, revealing the young author, who appeared to be in a noticeably better shape than before, behind it. However, Juho still seemed to have lost some weight.
“Hello, there,” Juho greeted the editor, letting him in.
“The living room’s a lot cleaner than I remember,” Nam Kyung said, and Juho chuckled quietly. Then, watching him walk into the kitchen to prepare tea, Nam Kyung sat on the couch in the living room. Although he wanted to demand that the young author show him the finished first draft, the editor sat and waited quietly, reminding himself that there were steps that needed to be taken to get there. Soon, Juho returned to the living room with cold beverages in his hands, which appeared to be some kind of iced tea.
“I got it from Dong Gil as a gift,” Juho said, clarifying the source of the teabags.
Nam Kyung took the cup from Juho, which had what looked like look an owl drawn on the outer wall of the cup. Seeing as though the cup looked significantly different from the one in Juho’s hand, Nam Kyung’s cup appeared to be a special one for the guests.
“Are you coming from work?”
“Yep,” Nam Kyung said, feeling the breeze blowing into the house through the window, probably the reason for the house to have been in disarray, with pages of manuscript paper scattered about the entirety of it. Nam Kyung still had vivid memories of that day, of struggling to keep the pages from flying away. Now, the clean, organized state of the living room proved to the editor that Juho had really overcome his predicament.
Frankly, it was common for authors to be influenced by external factors and to struggle to maintain the consistency in their writing. Because they were human, authors also had a life to lead, and it was impossible for them to approach writing with the same, consistent mindset and emotional state every time. Of course, every author had their own way of dealing with that, which obviously varied in effect. Whatever Yun Woo’s method for dealing with the inconsistencies of being human, which often rose from his daily life, was, it was clearly ineffective when it came to protecting him from the impact of ‘The Full Moon.’ Since reading Hyun Do’s new book, Juho had experienced a change, being unable to write in the way that he had in mind.
Thankfully, what had helped the young author return to stability was a certain encounter with his readers. Nam Kyung observed the look on Juho’s face. He was staring straight ahead and drinking his tea absentmindedly. It had an uncanny resemblance to the look on Hyun Do’s face, including its ambiguity, making it impossible to read.
“So, did Alexandria finish school after all?” Nam Kyung asked. Then, he saw Juho’s eyes move as he caught on to what the editor was implying. Chuckling quietly, Juho said, “You’ll find out.”
As an experienced editor, Nam Kyung was well acquainted with the looks on authors faces when they were about to show their first drafts to their editors. Knowing the challenges they were about to face, most authors couldn’t celebrate in peace, which meant editors had to be even more cautious in the way they approached the revision process. Authors tended to have incredibly sharp eyes, and they were capable of catching even the most subtle changes of expression on their editors’ faces. Knowing that, Nam Kyung was well aware that he was becoming the target of observation in that moment. He tended to refrain, as much as possible, from showing any emotion on his face when reading through a manuscript. However, he often found himself having to be twice as cautious in front of Yun Woo, as the young author was incredibly sensitive.
“Here you go,” Juho said as he brought the manuscript out. Hiding his anxiety, Nam Kyung took the bundle of paper from the young author’s hand. While the editor read through it, Juho drank his tea. There was no interaction between the two for a little while, letting only the various random sounds occupy the silence, such as the whir of the motor within the refrigerator, the sound of cars passing by outside, and the chirping of a bird. At that moment, the sound of laughter broke the silence. Nam Kyung had laughed while covering his mouth with his hand, which he had clenched into a fist for some reason. Then, looking away from the page, Nam Kyung looked at the person who had made him burst into laughter, who also had a subtle smile on his face, as if relieved to see the editor’s response.
“She’s a cheerful person,” Nam Kyung said.
“She has a unique way of problem-solving, doesn’t she?”
“Indeed. She’s very likable.”
Just like her name, Alexandria tended to conquer all the challenges that came her way in the bravest manner. As Yun Woo’s editor, Nam Kyung acknowledged that she was the most humorous character ever created by the young author. ‘How could anybody possibly not like her?’ Nam Kyung thought to himself. She had a presence fit for a king.
“Seems like the setting really brings out more of the story,” he added. Unlike the magnificent characters and their extraordinary life stories, the entire story took place in a small, humble setting. It was that seemingly jarring contrast that had provoked the laughter. In simple terms, it was a comedy. After collecting himself, Nam Kyung resumed reading. The fast pace gave life to the sentences, making it difficult to figure out where he had left off. At the same time, it felt somewhat excessive, making the editor concerned about the story becoming shallow down each line. Nevertheless, holding back any judgment, Nam Kyung read on. At that moment, something unexpected happened. What had felt like a seamless reading experience quickly became anything but. Something was out of place, and Nam Kyung felt his brow tensing up as the young author’s gaze bore down on him. In that moment, thinking that the best course of action was to cover his face somehow, Nam Kyung sat up and lowered his head, reading the pages up close. He couldn’t shake off the feeling that he had read about the thief at some point.
“This is the book thief, isn’t it?” Nam Kyung asked. The thief was making an appearance in the most unexpected place in the book. When the editor looked up at Juho, he was wearing a peaceful look, unfazed.
“I know what you’re thinking. Keep reading,” Juho said, and according to his advice, Nam Kyung read on. What had been a cheerful, uplifting story had taken a dark turn. Although the thief seemed to be slightly younger than when Nam Kyung had first read about him, the thief still seemed like he had been evil since birth, and that had remained true of him even as an elementary student. Shrewd, evil, and entirely devoid of conscience, the thief continued to steal books at school. Inclined to betray those around him, the thief didn’t interact with anybody and only provided help when there was a benefit to him.
Up to that point, Nam Kyung had met countless people like that in his life, and he would most likely meet more of them in the future. Children were growing up sooner and sooner. Similarly, the book thief, who had the appearance of a child, was already an adult on the inside, bearing an uncanny resemblance to his coworkers and those Nam Kyung had to bow to. Like day turning into night, what was once a naive and lovely story had started changing out of nowhere. As the Sun set and took the light with it, darkness engulfed the world. In other words, it was reality and thankfully, the Sun rose again in that dark reality. It was incredibly well done and distinctively Yun Woo.
The presence of the book thief enhanced the quality of the book even more, which was still in its first draft. After revisions, it was bound to come to life even more. Then, looking up, Nam Kyung said, “Thanks for your submission, Mr. Woo.”
With that out of the way, there was one more thing that needed to be brought up to the young author. When reminded of that, Nam Kyung was immediately struck by anxiety.
When Juho saw his editor laughing, the emotion that came to him was a sense of relief. It had seemed like at least some of the young author’s intentions had gotten across. Thankfully, Nam Kyung saw the book thief coexisting with a character like Alexandria positively. However, the editor had expressed some concerns toward the end, when the protagonist came to face the thief. When Juho looked at Nam Kyung again, the editor seemed to have reconciled with his initial concern.
Frankly, from the time the editor first stepped into the house, Juho had been nervous about Nam Kyung’s visit. Whenever he was about to show a manuscript to his editor for the first time, Juho would always find himself getting nervous. Unfortunately, there was little he could do about it. At the end of the day, Nam Kyung was an editor, and Juho was an author. Contrary to the uplifting atmosphere of the novel, writing that story had come with its fair share of struggle. If Juho were to be honest, he would appear quite nervous about what Nam Kyung would have to say about the manuscript. Knowing that Nam Kyung tended to hide his emotions when reading a manuscript, Juho felt the need to observe him even closer. It wasn’t long before his tea had run out while he was watching the editor reading.
Then, Juho noticed something strange after Nam Kyung put the manuscript down, looking noticeably more comfortable. There was something about the editor that made him look anxious, as if he had something to say.
“Would you like more tea?” Juho asked, and the editor accepted his offer gladly. Juho went to the kitchen with Nam Kyung’s cup and filled it with water, reverting it back to its composition of before Nam Kyung had started drinking from it. Meanwhile, Juho thought about what the editor was about to bring up. If it was about the manuscript, then it didn’t make sense that he would be so anxious. Juho recalled having already declined an interview offer. Perhaps, he had a different manuscript in mind that he wanted to request. With that, as the young author returned to the living room, and Nam Kyung said, “I think we can breathe now. You’ve come a long way.”
“I’m not gonna lie, it wasn’t easy,” Juho said, agreeing with Nam Kyung. “Although, the real fun part hasn’t happened yet.”
Unfortunately, the writing process was still ongoing. The story was still in its early stages, and it still needed to go through a number of revisions until it became a book-worthy.
“Right. The real fun is just about to begin,” Nam Kyung said, nodding weakly. Something wasn’t right. The editor was keeping the same behavior about him, even as they talked. “I can just picture how things will look on the release day, you know?”
“I mean, it’s not my first time writing a book. But if I were to be honest, I am still kind of nervous.”
“Right? I mean, seeing your book getting released is definitely something to celebrate.”
As an author, the fact that his book was getting released was good news. Instead of the pages of manuscript paper in Nam Kyung’s hands, the machine would print a revised version of the manuscript, which would be reformatted in order to make the printing process more efficient. After going through the revisions that would be made, the workers at the print shop would look at the spacings, the filming process, and the plate making. Then, the printed pages would be bound into a book. Nam Kyung imagined a freshly printed book coming out of the printer. As usual, the book would come out in B6 paper. There would be countless promises that would be made in the process of estimating how many materials would be needed and the cost of production.
“It’s kind of like a festival of sorts. You know, an event,” Nam Kyung said. It was quite different from what Juho had in mind.
“Right. Although, I’m not sure how to feel about events.”
“You’re not sure?”
Then, pausing briefly, Nam Kyung put on a determined look, appearing as though he was about to get to the point.
“Let’s do a signing event,” the editor said in a slight delay. Again, it wasn’t exactly what Juho had had in mind, and the word signing event sounded quite foreign to the young author.
“You mean, me?”
“Me? Have a signing event?”
“What’s the matter, Mr. Woo? You seem shocked,” Nam Kyung said, looking much more at peace than before. “Call it a special event in celebration of the release of your new book. Think about it. Spending the entire day with your readers at a bookstore on the day of release,” Nam Kyung said, emphasizing the participation of the readers.
Then, after staring into the air in a daze, Juho said, “I’ve never done it.”
Nam Kyung looked at him as if Juho was stating the obvious. However, Juho had never held a signing event in the past because his second book had turned out to be a disaster.
“What I’m suggesting here is Yun Woo’s first official signing event. My company and I will take care of all the details. Think about it, Mr. Woo. This is your opportunity to show just how grateful you are to your readers.”
Nam Kyung kept on, as if determined to convince the young author.
“It’s just so sudden.”
“I’m not suggesting that you make a decision today,” Nam Kyung said, implying that Juho shouldn’t be so quick to decline, either. It was a well-known fact that Yun Woo disliked appearing before the public.
Then, replacing the phrase said by his editor in his head, Juho asked, “If I said yes…”
“Yes?” Nam Kyung asked without even breathing.
“How would it happen?”
At that, Nam Kyung gave the young author a brief summary of what the event would look like.
“First, we’ll give everyone a numbered ticket and make sure people who are coming from far away get the advantage of staying in the front of the line. Considering that it’s your signing event, I’m guessing there will be quite a few people who won’t hesitate to travel a long distance. We’ll discuss that in more detail as we go.”
“And if I said no.”
“Think about it,” Nam Kyung said, glaring piercingly at the young author’s face. Although Juho wasn’t sure of what Nam Kyung was thinking, seeing as though he was busy trying to prevent the young author from declining right off the bat, Juho remained open to the idea. Not only was the fact that it was something he had never done before appealing to him, but he also recalled having received help from certain readers. He had come to realize that meeting with his readers was not entirely a bad thing. As he was deep in thought, Nam Kyung kept on, “We’ll have a team of talented individuals helping you out. Besides, I’ll be right there, next to you. It might feel foreign and awkward since it’s your first time, but eventually, you’ll even start recognizing some of the readers who show up regularly as we hold more signings. A lot of fan cafe members tend to come to events like that actually. They’re professionals when it comes to signing events.”
“Please, tell me more,” Juho said, noticing the subtle smile spreading across Nam Kyung’s face. The editor had to have noticed that Juho was taking an interest, glad that the young author was open to the idea of holding a signing event.
“I think the biggest perk of having an event like this is that you get to see your readers’ responses immediately after they’ve read the book. After all, the event is going to be on the book’s release day,” Nam Kyung said, and Juho became curious about what the readers’ responses would be like immediately after they’ve read the book.
“What if they hurl insults?”
“You didn’t get that from me, so you should be fine.”
“There are all sorts of readers out there, though.”
When a manuscript became the subject of an editor’s insults, it never got made into a book. However, that didn’t necessarily mean that the opposite was true. The approval of the editor didn’t necessarily guarantee the success of the book either. It was the gap between ideal and reality. Thankfully, Nam Kyung had always been a trustworthy editor. Alexandria. The book thief. Short stories. Readers.
“Should I give it a try?” Juho asked, only to rephrase what he had said shortly after, “No, I’ll do it. As long as you arrange it.”
That day, Nam Kyung smiled brighter than ever.
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