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This chapter is updated by Wuxia.Blog
Translated by: ShawnSuh
Edited by: SootyOwl
“What if he says no?”
Yun Woo had every right to say no. The author had turned down an invitation to a recent book festival with a resounding no, similarly with many interviews and events related to Zelkova, which had included a special event with another publisher in the UK. Reminded of the author’s history with avoiding public appearances, Mr. Maeng sighed heavily.
“It wouldn’t be this hard if it were some other author,” he said, resting his chin on his hand. Then, looking like something had occurred to him, he said, “Wait… What if we can’t find any other authors after we get Mr. Woo on board? That wouldn’t be a good thing either.”
While Mr. Maeng had said that jokingly, Nam Kyung shrugged and said, “That’s definitely possible. At the same time, there could be authors eager to participate after knowing that Mr. Woo was gonna be there.”
Then, he emptied his glass. Nothing was set in stone yet. However, the higher-ups were definitely eager to push the event forward, which meant Nam Kyung would become incredibly busy.
“As for an author who debuted this year, it’s pretty obvious, isn’t it? Sung Pil seemed like a promising candidate.”
“Ah! Him!” Nam Kyung exclaimed, and Mr. Maeng nodded in agreement. He was the first contestant to be nominated by unanimous decision since Yun Woo. Not only was that an advertisement in and of itself, but the quality of his writing was definitely worth the overwhelming praise from the critics.
“I really hope he makes it.”
“I hope so too,” Nam Kyung said in agreement. Not only was Sung Pil one of the only people Yun Woo had his eye on, but they were also the same age. The editor thought back to the time when he met Sung Pil for the first time, not as an author, but as Yun Woo’s acquaintance. It wasn’t until Sung Pil debuted as an author that Nam Kyung started making sense of why Yun Woo had avoided getting into details about their friendship back then.
“Do you think it’s too soon to leverage him being friends with Mr. Woo?”
How would the public react to their friendship?
“Their friendship? Oh! They’re the same age, aren’t they? Wait… Do they know each other??”
“Oh, no. They just happen to be the same age.”
Being a new author entailed having to start from the bottom, including building their fame. Although their books might be pouring out to the stores, there wouldn’t be enough readers in comparison to the number of books available. Rumors usually contributed little to the success of a new book, and making it into the bestsellers’ list was practically impossible. It meant having to utilize every means necessary to get their names out early on in their careers.
“So, as long as Mr. Woo gives us an OK, we wouldn’t have to worry about advertising, right? This is gonna be massive. I just know it.”
“And that’s exactly why advertising is so important,” Nam Kyung said.
The name Yun Woo was practically an endorsement in and of itself. At that moment, the editor emptied his glass once again.
“What could possibly go wrong?”
The next day, suffering from hangovers, neither of them was able to remember what had happened that night.
Juho came out for a walk at a park on the riverbank of the Han River. There were quite a few riders pedaling along the side of the river. Walking past the observation tower, the one which Juho had entered at one point, the author kept walking forward, enjoying the weather.
“Go away!” a child shouted. When Juho looked toward where the voice had come from, he saw a group of children, playing together. After checking the time, he sat on a bench nearby and watched them play.
“Let’s race!” another child shouted. The children seemed to be in high spirits.
“Whoever gets to the finish line wins!”
“Where’s the finish line?”
“That white line over there.”
As they stood side by side, the youngest looking child said, “This isn’t fair.”
Being a head shorter than the rest of the group, the boy had to be a younger sibling of one of the children. After some contemplation, the children agreed to let the younger child start slightly ahead of them.
“Five paces? So… right here?”
“Hey! That was six!”
“No! It was five!”
In either case, five or six paces, for a boy his age, that didn’t seem like much of an advantage. The children were incredibly unforgiving. Although the boy took a step back in order to appease his older brother, who seemed to be driven by fairness, the boy moved right back to where he’d been as soon as the children looked away.
“Don’t even think about crossing the start line.”
“You cheat, you die.”
What seemed like an innocent race between children suddenly turned into a matter of life and death. As the child who brought up death leaned forward as if about to bolt forward at any given minute, the child next to them positioned themselves as if mimicking a posture they had seen elsewhere. Each and every child got into a position of their own.
‘Who’ll win?’ Juho thought to himself, taking interest in the race. At a glance, the tallest child, who also seemed to be the most athletic and competitive, seemed like they had the most advantage. The child to their left was slightly shorter, but they seemed to make up for their lack of height with their brand-name soccer shoes, which made a distinct noise whenever they took a step. Meanwhile, the child to the right of the tallest child seemed quite uncomfortable in their position, with their knees bent. In any case, it was already becoming apparent that it wouldn’t be long until the youngest child got outrun by the older children.
Then, as Juho decided to bet on the child wearing soccer shoes, the children took off. Just as Juho had expected, the tallest child had the fastest start. However, that child seemed to have trouble passing their friends. The slowest was the child who had waited for the signal in an uncomfortable-looking position. Although the track wasn’t very long, the children ran with everything they had.
“No!” the youngest child exclaimed, watching his older friends outrunning him. Despite his desperate shout, the older children kept up their speed. Eventually, the race narrowed down to two runners: the tallest child and the child wearing soccer shoes, both of whom competed fiercely, not letting up until the end. Then, as they both crossed the finished line, the results became clear.
“And I, too,” Juho murmured as the child wearing soccer shoes shouted victoriously. The tallest child had a look of displeasure on their face, demanding a rematch. Of course, the child wearing soccer shoes paid no attention to them. While the youngest child clung to his older brother, complaining about the race, the child who had had the peculiar posture appeared embarrassed about the result.
Looking at the children, Juho thought of a short story that took place in the near future, after they had grown slightly older. Nobody knew what the future held, which meant it was always possible for the youngest child to surpass his older friends, at least in the scenario in Juho’s head. The race that day would do hardly anything to determine the children’s fate.
Juho thought back to his friend, who had openly predicted his future victory. However, the biggest difference between them had been that he had reeked of alcohol, unlike the innocent children. ‘Let’s see who turns up at the top,’ Juho thought to himself.
“It’s a draw so far.”
Previously, there had been no contest since Sung Pil had been overwhelmingly successful, unlike him. Now, Juho was ahead in the race, making them even. As that occurred to Juho, he tried coming up with another condition for winning: who wrote better books.
“We’re gonna need some judges,” Juho said, realizing that that wasn’t all that different from his initial idea. So far, both Juho and Sung Pil had been nominated for their awards by unanimous decision.
“Wait for me!” the youngest child cried out, struggling to keep up with his older brother.
“Hurry up!” the older brother said, rushing his younger brother, seemingly having trouble getting away from his younger brother. Seeing as though the older brother was keeping his younger brother in check, there had to have been at least one time when he had been outrun by his younger brother.
“Take care of your little brother!” his parents said.
At which point, a crabby look appeared on the older brother’s face. Expecting someone, Juho checked the time. Then, just as he rose from the bench, thinking about getting coffee for himself and the other person, his phone started ringing.
“Where did you say you were again?” the voice coming from the receiver asked.
“There’s a body of water around,” Juho said, looking at the river.
“… I didn’t realize you were directionally challenged.”
Then, as Juho gave a bit more detail about his surroundings, the voice on the other end of the line said, “OK, I think I’m getting closer,” and soon…
The same voice came out of nowhere, as if proving what they were saying. Putting his phone down, Juho looked back and saw Nam Kyung, standing with two cups of coffee.
“Is it OK for us to meet in public like this?” the editor asked, looking around the busy park.
“I haven’t had any issues so far,” Juho said, shrugging and tapping his hat. To which, the editor gave the young author a distrustful look and suggested, “Why don’t we go to my car?”
“That works too.”
The editor didn’t mind going all the way back to his car at all. Upon arrival, Juho got in the passenger’s seat and drank his coffee. The Han River was noticeably further away from where it had been.
“It feels like we are supposed to be in a drive-in theater.”
“Before we do that, have you given some thought to what I asked you?” Nam Kyung said somewhat impatiently. He was referring to their discussion about the event, which had taken place prior to their current meeting. Meanwhile, Juho was staring at a miniature figure on the dashboard of the car, which turned out to be an air freshener.
“So, is this a presentation of sorts?” Juho asked.
Clearing his throat, the editor replied, “So to speak. It’s nothing fancy. It’s more geared toward showing readers what the writing process looks like for authors rather than presenting the book itself.”
“Even for Yun Woo?”
“Well, that’s the gist of it anyway. You’ll have to prepare quite a bit.”
Then, Nam Kyung added, giving the young author a choice, “Should you be so inclined, you can always cite parts of your books that have already been published. For example, you can write parts of ‘Trace of a Bird’ and explain your creative process to your readers.”
“That doesn’t sound all that fun.”
“In that case, all you gotta do is prepare a new manuscript. Oh! You could bring one of those manuscripts that used to be scattered about your living room.”
“Do I get a say in this at all?”
“Give it some thought. Frankly, the idea of this whole event came about because of you. Yun Woo’s writing process.”
As Juho hesitated, the editor started explaining the event in detail: the literary award exhibition, the hands-on event, and the riveting title of the event. Set to take place over the course of five days, the event would showcase one author per day. They, every one of which would be a winner of a literary award, would present their writing processes. There were no limitations to what the authors could write, and the fact that they would be given time to prepare in advance reduced the burden on the authors’ end.
“So, what you’re saying is that people won’t be flat out comparing the authors since we have a choice between bringing a manuscript that’s been revised repeatedly or one that we wrote the night before.”
Fans wouldn’t have a way to compare the authors.
“Yes. Now that you have a better idea of the event, how does it sound?”
“It’s definitely more interesting,” Juho said, thinking of the racing children who seemed to place a high value on rank.
“Then, when would I be presenting?” he asked. Noticing the editor’s intent gaze ooking as though trying to understand the intent behind the author’s question, Juho kept his eyes fixed on the figurine on the dashboard.
“I’m not going first, am I?”
“Oh, no. We haven’t decided on the order yet. Just so you know, Mr. Woo, we’re planning on making this as convenient as possible for the authors, including working around their schedules. But, the way I see it, I think it would be best to save the best for last.”
At that, Juho immediately caught on to what his editor had in mind: to have him present last.
“So, I’d be going last, then?”
“… That could be one way of putting it, but I think it’d be more accurate to describe it as the grand finale, if you will.”
As Juho chuckled quietly, Nam Kyung said cautiously, “We managed to get the winner of this year’s Rookie of the Year Award on board.”
“Really?” Juho asked knowingly, but nodding as if he had had no idea. Having heard directly from Sung Pil, Juho was already aware of his friend’s participation in the event. However, the young author didn’t want that to be seen as his reason for participating.
“He’s a lucky guy. A major public event like this will be a major boost to his career. It’s practically advertising itself,” Nam Kyung said.
“Who are some of the authors on board?”
“Aside from Pyung Jin Lee, we’re still working on it. You’re the first author we’re reaching out to after Sung Pil.”
“What do you think? Should I give it a go?”
As the editor waited for Juho’s next question, the author asked again, rephrasing his question, “Should I give this whole writing-in-front-of-people thing a try?”
Juho thought back to his days in the Literature Club. If he decided to participate in the event, it would be his first time writing in front of other people as Yun Woo. Unlike the contest he had competed in with Sung Pil, there wasn’t a need to give up on an award because there wouldn’t be an award ceremony, let alone a stage for it. If there weren’t going to be limitations to what the authors could choose to write about, Juho had just the manuscript for the occasion in mind.
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