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This chapter is updated by Wuxia.Blog
Translated by: ShawnSuh
Edited by: SootyOwl
“Can I watch other authors write?”
“Of course,” Nam Kyung said, writing a text message to someone on his phone in a hurry. Then, he suddenly looked up at Juho and asked, “Would you like a separate event for yourself? If you’re open to participating in events like that, we can always go bigger.”
“No, thanks,” Juho said, shaking his head emphatically. Although smacking his lips, Nam Kyung seemed stoked that the young author was on board.
“Should we go to a drive-in theater or something?” he asked, looking like he was in a great mood. Instead of giving an answer, Juho drank his coffee quietly. Shortly after putting his phone back in his pocket, Nam Kyung explained the event in even greater details to Juho, from the schedules to the format, along with Juho’s responsibility as a participating author. While listening to his editor talk, Juho wondered, ‘Who will I see at the event?’
Before the event officially started, Zelkova held a celebration after they had found enough authors to participate. Having arrived ten minutes earlier than he had planned, Juho ran into Nam Kyung as soon as he walked into the building.
“Hi, where are the others?”
Juho rushed to the conference room when he found out that he had arrived last.
“This way,” Nam Kyung said, leading him toward the room, the same room in which Juho had had to decide which overseas interview to take part in. As the door opened, the same, familiar interior appeared. The only difference was that there were four other authors in the room aside from Juho, Sung Pil being one of them.
“Mr. Woo! Welcome!” a familiar person greeted the young author. It was the director of the editing department. After shaking hands, the director started out with small talk.
“It’s hot out, isn’t it?”
“Yes. The Sun is quite hot today.”
As Juho talked to the director, he felt piercing gazes fixed on him like arrows. After that, he took a seat next to Sung Pil.
“Hello,” Juho greeted him. After staring intently at Juho for a little while, Sung Pil greeted the author back, “Hello.”
Seeing his thick eyebrows at the conference room of a publishing company made for a different experience.
“Why don’t you all spend some time getting to know each other a little bit?” Nam Kyung suggested quietly, and the oldest looking author in the group replied, brushing his thin hair back with his hand across his balding head, “Should we?”
“I won the Rookie of the Year Award the year before you, Mr. Woo. I run a small indoor fishing pond now.”
Appearing to be in his mid-thirties at the oldest, the man seemed as generous as the size of his forehead. With that, the turn to speak naturally went to the person next to him.
“I debuted a couple of years ago. Since there wasn’t a winner last year, I suppose that would make me the second from the last person to win the award,” she said, making a ‘V’ sign with her fingers. There were silver rings on four of her fingers, making it look like she was spreading them all.
“I won the award the year before the gentleman sitting next to me, but I ended up moving to the US to study abroad,” the man next to her said, crossing his arms. Wearing a hairdo that split at a ratio of two-to-eight, the man had a very tactful fashion sense. Then, looking in Juho’s direction, he added, “I really enjoyed your books, Mr. Woo. Thanks to you, I didn’t have to worry about forgetting my Korean during my time at the States.” Despite the complimentary words, his piercing gaze made him look quite unwelcoming. While Juho was busy thinking of an answer, Sung Pil rose from his seat in order to introduce himself, “I won the Rookie of the Year Award this year. Pleasure to meet you all.”
“It’s a pleasure to meet you too,” the fishing pond owner said. Similarly, Silver Rings also let out a hearty laugh. Unlike the two, the student abroad was pouting as if disgruntled by Juho’s lack of response. Sung Pill sat back down after sharing a few more things about himself, and naturally, the turn went to Juho, who introduced himself in his usual manner.
“Hello. Yun Woo. As for when I won the award, I believe it’s already come up once, so I’ll go ahead and leave that part out. My real name is Juho Woo, but please feel free to call me as you wish. It’s a pleasure to meet you all.”
There was a brief and awkward pause as Juho finished speaking. As if everyone was comparing themselves to each other, the room sank into an uncomfortable silence.
“You know, I was skeptical when I first heard that you were gonna be part of this,” the student abroad said, adding, “I didn’t think you’d actually agree to participate.” That time, he didn’t sound aggressive by any means. Rather, he explained himself calmly and honestly.
“Why was that?” Juho asked.
“It’s just that the Rookie of the Year Award sounds so shabby in comparison to what your name entails. You’re the winner of not one, but TWO of the most widely recognized literary awards in the world. Our awards might have some significance in this tiny little country we’re living in, but at the end of the day, they’ve got nothing on you.”
As Silver Rings whistled quietly, the fishing pond owner looked toward the Zelkova staff, particularly in the direction of the director of the editing department, who was listening to their conversation unfazed. The other staff members around seemed to be on their toes. However, the student abroad didn’t stop there, “It’s almost as if a world-class athlete is forced to practice without getting any proper support.”
“Does it seem like I deserve to be in a better environment?”
“The way I see it, there’s not a single event that takes place in this country that suits you.”
“Is that so? That’s never really occurred to me before. I am thankful that people are still willing to talk to me though.”
At that, the student abroad narrowed his eyes and said, “I thought Yun Woo was invincible? Why so modest? You’ve earned your bragging rights, haven’t you?”
“I mean, I could do that, if that’s what you want,” Juho said, chuckling.
“That won’t be necessary. Honestly, part of me wishes that you weren’t so successful, but I’m not asking you to prove that you can be arrogant at will.”
As the surrounding staff members listened to the conversation anxiously, Juho changed the subject subtly, “If you really wanna know why I decided to be part of this, then I’d be more than happy to tell you. It’s simple. I happened to have a manuscript that I wanted to show my readers.”
“… Sounds like you came prepared.”
“You’ll just have to find out yourself. Besides, I had a promise to keep with a friend who was drunk at the time,” Juho said, shrugging nonchalantly as Sung Pil moved around on his chair timidly.
“What about you? What’s your story?”
At that, a not-so-pleasant smile appeared on the student abroad’s face.
“Why, I’m honored that you want to know about me. I guess there is hope in this country after all. I decided to participate because I wanted to seize the opportunity. It’s just not easy for the younger authors to survive in this industry. My belief is that if you’re an author in Korea, you have to grasp opportunities like this.”
Juho noticed the strange pattern in the student abroad’s attitude, which often appeared inconsistent with his speech. His compliments were fierce and vicious, while his attacks were indifferent and careless. At the same time, he wasn’t afraid to talk openly about things that made him look cowardly. At that moment, Silver Rings raised her hand in a cheerful manner.
“I came to take part in this because it sounded like a lot of fun. Besides, when I was told Yun Woo was gonna be there, I was sold. Also, part of me wishes that I start getting some gigs if I pull this off,” she said, making a rock on gesture with her hand.
Then, the fishing pond owner chimed in, scratching his head, “I’m here for similar reasons. Sure, I’m not a full-time author, but I’ve always wanted to be successful as a writer. It’s always been a dream of mine. As soon as I become a bestselling author, I’m selling my business.”
After that, Sung Pil opened his mouth to share his reason for participating in the event, “I’m here to win.”
“Win?” the student abroad asked.
“Yes,” Sung Pil replied brusquely. Although subtle, it was clear that he was determined not to lose to his friend, and the other authors in the room had to hold a similar feeling. As Sung Pil brought up the subject that everyone had been quietly avoiding, a strange sense of tension surrounded the room. Then, the director spoke up, clapping, “All right, then. I guess that means it’s our turn to explain.” After handing out some printouts, she started explaining details of the event, including those the authors had already heard. Taking place as part of the Literary History Exhibition, the main point of the event was to show readers the writing processes of the writers who had won the Rookie of the Year Award at some point.
“As for the dates, I believe we’ve already let you know.”
“Yes, you have,” the fishing pond owner said.
“And conveniently, I see that everyone’s sitting in the order in which they’ll be presenting,” the director said, looking around the room at the authors: the fishing pond owner, Silver Rings, the student abroad, Sung Pil, and Yun Woo.
“All you gotta do is write freely within the allotted time. Each of you will be given a laptop that is connected to a projector, which will show your writing process on a bigger screen in real time. Your readers will be able to experience writing in a way they’ve never done before,” she said, smiling. Although the handful of authors smiled along, none of them were in a position to be able to smile genuinely.
“If what we write during the event is decent, does that mean you’ll consider publishing it?” the student abroad asked. To which, the director said peacefully, “Of course. Making a good piece of writing into a book is our utmost priority.”
Every participant was taking part in the event with their own agenda, and Juho was no different. The desire to write a perfect piece of writing kept popping up in his mind. Although he was fully aware that it was not a good attitude with which to approach writing, he couldn’t help himself. Feeling his shoulders tensing up, Juho massaged them on his own. Then, Sung Pil raised his hand and asked, “Are we allowed to watch each others’ presentations?”
“I think we can make that happen. Should you be interested in doing that, please feel free to let me know.”
Next, the fishing pond owner raised his hand, “I have a notebook that I like to write on. Am I allowed to bring it with me?”
“Yes. You may bring anything as long as it helps you feel more at ease.”
After that, Silver Rings interjected, “What about music?”
“Of course. We will do our absolute best not to limit you all in any way. The more you are yourself, the better.”
“Huh!” Juho let out, catching the director’s attention.
“Will there be reporters?” he asked.
“Most likely. Your presence at the event will probably attract the media’s attention.”
“Will you be announcing who’ll presenting on which day?”
At that, a smile appeared on the director’s face, as if she had been waiting for the question.
“We want to keep it a secret. So, I’d like to ask you all to do your best not to disclose that information to anyone.”
“It sounds like the crowd could chant for Yun Woo while we’re going up to the stage.”
Although Juho kept a smile on his face, he saw the determination in others’ faces. After all, every author in the room had agreed to participate knowing that Yun Woo would be there with them.
“I trust that everyone here will do their best. I’m sure this is nerve-wracking, but try to think of it as a walk in the park,” the editor said, sending mixed messages. From then on, Nam Kyung took over and explained the event further. What made a great author wasn’t how many books they were currently selling, and it was always possible that one of the authors in that room would write a masterpiece. Nobody knew what the future held.
“Well, let’s do this,” the fishing pond owner said, and the rest of the authors agreed. Wishing success for themselves didn’t necessarily mean that they wanted the worst for others, although it naturally tended to appear that way. Every participant looked at each other, burning with the desire to win.
‘History of Korean Literature Exhibition Said to be Held at the National Central Exhibition Hall! Winners of Literary Awards Showcase Their Writing Process! This is How They Write. An Opportunity to Meet Yun Woo.’
‘An Unreleased Interview of Authors and Critics. A Space to See the Past of Celebrity Authors. Special Events Said to Take Place.’
‘Winners of Literary Award Comes Together. The Future of Korean Literature. Yun Woo Reported to Participate.”
‘Five Authors Stand Before Their Readers. See Their Talent For Yourselves!”
‘Yun Woo’s Writing Process Revealed. What Makes This Exhibition Special? The Website Reported to be Down.’
‘Where to Get Ticket for the Exhibition. Ways to See Yun Woo? Names of Other Participating Authors Remain Unannounced.’
‘”We Want to See Yun Woo Write!” Inquiries Flood Zelkova.’
‘The Only Way to Meet Yun Woo? By Coincidence! Order of Presentation Said to be Determined at Random. The Publisher Asks Fans to Receive Their Tickets in Order.’
‘The Long Kept Secret of Yun Woo’s Skill! The Author Comes Face to Face with Doubts and Conspiracies.’
‘How Are the Other Authors Feeling? Would Any of Them Be Able to Attract the Attention of the Fans Away from Yun Woo?’
‘This is How Yun Woo’s Writing Comes About! Yun Woo Showcases How His Novels Are Born.’
‘The Birth of a Special Event. Yun Woo Reported to Participate. The Exhibition Gets a Major Upgrade?’
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