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This chapter is updated by Wuxia.Blog
Translated by: ShawnSuh
Edited by: SootyOwl
Upon looking back, toward where the voice had come from, Myung Sil sighed internally. It was her former coworker, with whom she had worked at her previous workplace. She had never been close with him, nor did she ever want to be.
“Huh. You’re here too?”
“I just couldn’t miss out on Yun Woo’s writing process,” the coworker answered as if Myung Sil were stating the obvious.
“My team and I are on rotation since none of us know when Yun Woo’s presenting.”
“You seem to like your current job?”
“Sure, except that it’s just as hard.”
That day was the first official day of the event where the authors would showcase their writing processes to the public. Smacking his lips, the coworker asked, “You don’t think Zelkova would start off with Yun Woo right off the bat, do you?”
“Who knows? That’s why we’re here, right?”
“I suppose. Well, in either case, I am looking forward to this. It’s not every day you get to see authors write.”
Myung Sil looked toward the Literary History Exhibition, which, frankly, wasn’t all that impressive. The monitors installed throughout the hall were showing the younger authors in a Q&A session.
“I’m realizing just how many authors have disappeared from the face of the Earth. These were some of the most popular authors at one point,” the coworker said.
“Most of them were.”
Of course, among the authors on the screen were authors who were still active in the literary world, such as Seo Joong Ahn or Dae Soo Na. However, there were only an extreme few who were still relevant to the fans. As Myung Sil moved aside, the coworker followed her and said, “So, anything interesting you’d be willing to share?”
“What are you talking about?”
“Oh, I don’t know. It’s just that you have credibility, so I thought you might know a thing or two that I don’t, like the order in which the authors are presenting.”
“I got nothin’,” Myung Sil said emphatically.
“Bummer,” the coworker said and asked, “What do you think it will be like for the winner of this year’s Rookie of the Year Award? Do you think he’ll survive?”
Myung Sil looked at her former coworker, studying his expression, and asked, “You haven’t read his book, have you?”
“… Was it that obvious?”
With an excuse that he had no time to spare, the coworker defended himself desperately against Myung Sil’s accusation. Since she didn’t have a reason to listen to his excuses, Myung Sil cut him off, “His debut title was quite a piece of work.”
“You don’t say? How good was it?”
“You read out of obligation at first, but you’ll find yourself loving every bit of it in the end.”
“Sounds like one heck of a book.”
“That book was entertainment in and of itself,” Myung Sil said.
“Wait, entertainment? I thought it took place in a bank?”
“Which is what makes it such a great book. The originality of it.”
“I guess I better check it out then,” the coworker said, nodding as if having made up his mind to get his hands on a copy himself. However, Myung Sil had no interest whatsoever in whether he actually followed through with his statement or not. Then, she said quietly, “Personally, I hope he survives.”
What made Sung Pil’s writing so intriguing was that it had a certain friendliness to it. It was hard to put it into words. However, it did keep readers, including Myung Sil, curious about the author’s personality. Judging by the writing alone, the authors seemed quite sociable.
“I see Yun Woo over there,” the coworker said, walking ahead of Myung Sil that time. Complete with various records of the young author, it was the biggest segment of the exhibition by far. From the first to the youngest, world-class, and genius, the young author’s name had been decorated with all sorts of dazzling titles.
“There will never be another like him, huh?”
“Probably not, at least for another century.”
Thinking that meeting an author like Yun Woo was a tremendous blessing, Myung Sil looked at her coworker, who had a smile on his face that also looked as if he were biting down on his lower lip at a glance.
On the surface level, the event was primarily about showing the writing process of an author from beginning to end. However, Myung Sil knew that the young author would be stealing the show, which also brought about concerns for the other authors on whether they would be able to stand against Yun Woo.
“Well, in any case, I’m looking forward to this event,” she said, wondering how the young author would go about writing.
“Honestly, I was skeptical when I first found out that Yun Woo was participating,” the coworker said. Quite a few people held a similar thought.
“And why were you?” she asked.
“Because Yun Woo’s someone who has a lot on his plate, and to me, it seems like he’d have a lot more to lose than gain by being part of this event.”
Myung Sil agreed to her coworker internally. When she had first come across the news about the event, Yun Woo’s participation had made sense to Myung Sil considering how formidable the rookies were that year. Her thought process was reinforced when she thought about Yun Woo’s past as a winner from the start. However, before long, she found herself shaking her head, doubtful that he would actually turn up at the event.
“At first, I thought he was just trying to prove himself,” the coworker said, which was also one of the most logical possibilities. Being a prolific author behind some of the greatest books of the history, his mature writing, choice of subjects relevant to the youth, and bizarre mixture of various writing styles had brought him up to the top. However, his age had often worked against him. Having just turned twenty years old, there were countless critics and readers alike who doubted his legitimacy, some even going as far as claiming that he was a fake. As special as Yun Woo was, there was something puzzling about the young author, which made Myung Sil wonder if he was finally starting to stand up to the skeptics.
“But I don’t think that’s it, either.”
“I agree,” Myung Sil said, putting her hand in her pocket.
“I mean, he could’ve had an entirely separate event for himself, and not to mention that’d be a lot more effective. On top of that, the authors had to prepare a manuscript in advance, right? In that case, it would make more sense to compete in some essay contest. If he slips and ruffles his fans’ feathers just once, there’s no recovering from that.”
Then, glaring into the air, the coworker shrugged and added, “All that to say we still have no idea of why he’s here.”
Yun Woo was still shrouded in mystery. What could he possibly want out of a public event like that? Despite being known for avoiding public appearances, the author had decided to reveal his writing process to his fans out of nowhere. As Myung Sil was left baffled by the author’s unpredictable nature, the coworker said out of nowhere, “Personally, I hope other authors do a better job than Yun Woo.”
Reminded of why she couldn’t get along with him, Myung Sil sneered at her former coworker’s remark. He wasn’t rooting for anybody. Rather, he was hoping somebody would fall victim to misfortune.
“I can see that you still don’t like him,” she said. Her former coworker used to dream of becoming an author at one point.
“I’m sure Yun Woo doesn’t even have that many friends. Think about it. Who would possibly want to hang out with a genius? Sure, some might strike up a conversation with him out of curiosity, but that’s because they’re looking to get something out of him.”
Then, scratching his nose, he kept on, “It seems to me that he’s trying to make something happen now that he’s revealed himself. But, I’m gonna be real with you here. I hope he screws up somehow. For example, he could bring out some half ass manuscript that can’t even stand up to some nameless authors, or the fans could find out that he’s had a ghostwriter all along through this event. Just think about how provocative that would be. ‘Yun Woo, the Biggest Scam of Our Time.'”
“Yun Woo’s dedicated writer. It wouldn’t make sense for him to bring out anything crude,” Myung Sil said.
“That’s just no fun. He’s always moving up, so all the articles about him always look the same.”
“I think I like that.”
“Apparently, the other authors agreed to participate knowing that Yun Woo would be there, which means they’re thinking of ways to show him up somehow.”
“Huh. So, you read minds now?” Myung Sil asked sarcastically. Despite being a reporter and a journalist, the coworker had no sense of neutrality, which made the kinds of articles he would be writing obvious. Noticing the scolding look he was getting from Myung Sil, the coworker changed the subject.
“Anyway, if Yun Woo really turns up, then that’s something for us to be thankful for. Seeing him write was something that had only existed in people’s imagination. On top of that, you get to see it in real time.”
Then, he added, chuckling, “But then, he’s human too, so there could be a slip up that really upsets the readers, right?”
“You might wanna think about whether Yun Woo’s even presenting today or not,” Myung Sil said, turning around and going inside.
“Here it is.”
Juho was looking around the exhibition hall, which was reminiscent of a lecture hall at a university. There was a desk with a laptop set up onstage for the authors, and next to it, was a large projector screen. Whatever the authors wrote on the laptop would be shown to the audience in real time.
“Nervous?” Sung Pil asked. After a brief thought, Juho replied, “Not yet.”
Everything still felt surreal. Although it was the first official day of the event, it wasn’t Juho’s turn to present. On top of that, it would be weird to walk through an empty hall nervous. When he explained himself, Sung Pil shook his head and said, “That’s not entirely true,” and brought up an article he had come across that morning.
“Everyone seems set on comparing you to all the other authors. I can’t say that I wasn’t expecting that, but there were quite a few articles implying that you were gonna get knocked off the pedestal.”
Making sense of the intentions behind such articles, Juho chuckled at Sung Pil’s description them. The media seemed to be thinking of the event as an opportunity to uncover the mystery under which the young author was shrouded.
“It felt kind of weird when I read that your skills would be ‘exposed to the public.’ I thought that what determined an author’s skill was their book? In that case, your skills are already public,” Sung Pil said, his heavy voice reverberating from the stage. Sitting in the frontmost row, Juho watched Sung Pil walk around the stage, looking at every corner of it. At that moment, a silhouette appeared by the door connected to the stage.
“Who’s that person wandering around the stage? None of us have even presented yet.”
It was the fishing pond owner, who appeared noticeably more pale than usual.
“You guys are here early. There’s still quite some time.”
“We just wanted to see the empty seats. Besides, we wouldn’t be able to look around the place in peace on the day we’re presenting. Well, how are you doin’?”
“I’m glad you guys are here today. I’m so nervous that I can’t even drink my water,” the fishing pond owner said, almost making a fuss, but his hands were definitely shaky as he wiped his forehead with them.
The fishing pond owner let out a deep sigh after looking around the stage and said, “Quite so. I’m struck by the realization that it’s not the author who completes their manuscript. If it was already completed, I wouldn’t be this nervous.”
“That is true. People are bound to find some sort of meaning the moment they read an author’s writing.”
Then, coming down from the stage, Sung Pil asked, “What are you most afraid of?”
“Getting right to brass tacks, I see?” the fishing pond owner said, walking in the opposite direction of Sung Pil. Their footsteps intertwined on the stage. “Getting criticized.”
It was a natural response. Then, he turned toward the seats as though looking at Juho.
“I’m thin-skinned, so my wounds tend to last quite a while, which doesn’t help in this situation. It does make me more cautious though.”
“You must’ve come well-prepared, then,” Juho said. To which, the fishing pond owner admitted willingly, “I have, which is why I’m still willing to be part of this knowing that Yun Woo will be there. I had this manuscript that I’ve been holding on to for quite some time. I felt confident that it was the one story that I was better at writing than Yun Woo, but now that I’m here, that confidence is really starting to dwindle.”
There was a faint smell of dust and newly-built house in the air. Their voices were amplified in the empty hall.
“Yun Woo came along the year after I debuted.”
Although it was something Juho already knew, there was something about it that felt new. Perhaps it was the acoustics of the hall.
“I thought you were incredible, but at the same time, I was worried for you because you became very successful at such an early age. The world is an unfair place, so life can’t just be full of good events.”
Juho looked up at the stage, at the fishing pond owner standing on the edge of it, looking down at him.
“Well, it turns out that I was worried over nothing,” he said, scratching his cheek with shaky hand.
“I’m gonna do this and I’m gonna do this well. I want to hear people say that I did something better than Yun Woo,” he added, his voice also shaking nervously. As he waited for the young author’s answer, Juho rose from his seat, and the chair folded itself automatically. While thinking about what to say, another person’s voice reverberated through the hall, “Yun Woo!?”
There were two people standing by the entrance.
“You can’t go in there!” the employees said, stopping the two from going any further. One of them revealed themselves on both of their behalves, “We’re reporters.”
“I see. We have a separate space arranged for you all.”
Although one of them complied and walked away, the other ran into the hall. The person on their way out gave their colleague an absurd look. However, the reckless reporter had his eyes fixed in one place.
“Mr. Woo,” he said to Juho.
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