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This chapter is updated by Wuxia.Blog
Translated by: ShawnSuh
Edited by: SootyOwl
“I didn’t think I’d run into you here. What a coincidence!”
Juho gave no answer as he didn’t find the occasion surprising, especially somewhere a public event was set to be held. By the time the smile on the reporter’s face started fading, the employee came rushing into the hall, unsure of whether to drag the reporter out or not.
“Hello, Mr. Woo. Hello, Sung Pil,” the other reporter, who had come into the hall with the employee, greeted the two authors, handing them her business card.
“Myung Sil Oh. Reporter/Journalist.”
“Oh! Right!” the reporter who had rushed into the hall let out while also pulling out his business card, which seemed to be from a different agency.
“Do you have time to chat?” Myung Sil asked. When Juho looked at the other two authors, they seemed to be caught off guard by reporters’ presence, something neither of them was used to. Although Juho wouldn’t have hesitated to decline if he’d been the only one there, the other two authors were in desperate need of exposure.
“Are you presenting today, Mr. Woo?” the male reporter asked. Studying his business card, Juho said, “I can’t disclose that.”
“C’mon, now. Work with me here! What brought you here today?”
“As you can see, this is an exhibition hall. I came to look around.”
As the reporter chuckled, Juho decided to speak sparingly.
“But you already have the manuscript you’ll be presenting ready, right? How do you think your readers will respond?”
“Hard to say.”
“My understanding is that there was a slight problem during the signing, which makes me think there is such a thing as being too successful. Do you think your participation in this event will exacerbate the issue that came up during the signing in any way?”
“Are you worried that you’ll make a mistake at all?”
Juho noticed that the reporter was starting to show his true intentions with his questions and his stance on the young author’s participation in the event. Despite being a reporter, whose job was to get to know the other person better, that reporter was exposing himself instead, making Myung Sil’s silence look significantly wiser. To the reporter asking about his fear of making a mistake, Juho answered, “My understanding is that the whole point of this event is to show the process of writing.”
Judging from the expression on his face, the reporter also seemed aware of that. However, paying no attention to his expression, Juho added, “Besides, it’s not uncommon to make mistakes during the writing process, don’t you think? If there’s a sentence that the author feels like it’s not quite right, then all they gotta do is get rid of it. Right?”
“… Right. But if there’s a process, then there has to be a result. Don’t you think there’s a possibility that your manuscript will fall short to those of your fellow authors?”
It was getting clear that the reporter didn’t like Juho very much.
“That’s definitely a possibility.”
“Which means, presenting that to readers would be a very risky move on your end, right?”
“You can say that.”
“Then, did you decide to participate aware of that?”
At that, Juho looked up at the stage, and said, “If I were a sham, then I’d be a lot more troubled by now.”
Knowing his identity, his editor-in-charge had brought the event up to the author without trouble. Similarly, those who didn’t doubt Yun Woo’s identity didn’t wrestle with doubt. Rather, knowing that there was always some danger involved in every matter, they did their best to prepare for the unexpected without panicking. At that, the reporter’s expression hardened ever so slightly, and his bombardment of questions came to an abrupt end. Looking away from him, Juho looked toward Myung Sil, who pointed toward the two authors who stood behind Juho.
“And I’m sure you’ll be having a candid conversation with those two gentlemen?”
Without giving an answer and without offering any encouragement or comfort, Juho started walking away. Meanwhile, the fishing pond owner stared at the young author.
“I’m gonna get going.”
With that, Juho turned around and walked out of the hall despite the male reporter trying to stop him. Then, he arrived on the second floor, which had been designated for the authors only. The location allowed for a bird’s-eye view of the entire hall. When he glanced down, the hall was empty. There were no reporters or employees. Then, as he made himself a cup of green tea by the water dispenser, Sung Pil appeared out of nowhere.
“How’d it go?” Juho asked. To which, Sung Pil stared intently at him and said, “I couldn’t speak well, unlike you.”
Juho shrugged at Sung Pil’s unexpected compliment. Shaking the cup in his hand, Juho asked his friend if he’d like something to drink.
“No, thanks.” Sung Pil said. At that moment, the door opened, making Juho think that the reporters had caught up with them.
“Huh! You two are early!” Silver Rings said, waving at the two. Then, without hesitation, she asked them, “When did you guys get here? Did you get to look around?”
“We got here pretty early. We got a good look around the place, including the stage.”
At that, she let out a long sigh.
“If only I had had the time. My part-time shift had to be today… Wow! That’s a good lookin’ stage!” she said, raising two thumbs toward the stage. Of course, there was no response of any sort. Then, she plunked down onto the second from the last seat.
“Aren’t you guys nervous? I’m so anxious.”
“Not yet,” Sung Pil said honestly.
“You’re a tough one, aren’t you? I don’t know why, but I’ve been so nervous all day. Even as we’re speaking! Maybe it’s because I’m next.”
She would be the second author to present on the stage. Then, wrapping her neck with both of her hands, she said, “I’m SO excited! Just look at that gorgeous stage! I’m gonna jam to some good music while I write.”
As she had implied with her question during the meeting in Zelkova’s conference room, she seemed like she was bringing music to the presentation, which was quite unusual for a writer.
“Is that how you normally write?” Juho asked.
“Yes. There’s always been music in my life.”
“What are you gonna listen to?”
“Why, some good ol’ rock, of course! Punk, psychedelic, alternative, you name it. Sex Pistols is my favorite!”
Juho imagined her writing, lost in the aggressive sound of her favorite music. It was hard to imagine what kind of story she would write. Instead, he brought up a sentence that occurred to him just then.
“Too Fast to Live, Too Young to Die.”
The phrase referred to the reality of one’s life, when they were too young to die, but the world around them was simply too corrupted for them to live in. Widely-known, the phrase had also been quoted in a movie starring one of the members of Sex Pistols. As her eyes widened, Silver Rings took off her jacket, revealing the very phrase tattooed on her arm.
“Now I get why Yun Woo’s been so successful.”
“I don’t think it has anything to do with rock, though,” Sung Pil said, only to be ignored by Silver Rings. Walking toward Juho, she started raving about rock music. Although Juho did his best to play along, he simply didn’t know enough to be able to keep up with her. Then, when she moved on to Sung Pil, she was disappointed by the extent of his knowledge as the only relevant thing he knew about genre were the words Heavy Metal. At that moment, Sung Pil said, “The audience is coming in,” and Silver Rings turned her attention to the stage as the seats filled up, as if pouring water into a cup. Every member of the audience had a page of manuscript paper in their hands from the hands-on experience segment of the exhibition. Before long, the hall became filled with the sound of the buzzing crowd. After checking the stage, the staff turned the projector screen on, which displayed a blank page. Now, all there was left was for the author to make an appearance. Staring at the empty stage, the audience members waited anxiously for the author.
“They’re all looking for Yun Woo,” a voice that belonged neither to Silver Rings nor to Sung Pil said.
It was the student abroad, who was taking his seat at the end of the row while pointing toward a certain spot in the audience. Even without seeing where that was, Juho was immediately able to know what he was trying to say.
“Oh, how devastated these souls will be when they discover that they won’t be seeing Yun Woo on the stage today,” he murmured.
“You’re late,” Juho said, ignoring the student abroad’s murmur.
“Our hero isn’t even here yet, so I’m still on time, technically.”
“There he is.”
At that, the four of them looked toward the stage. The fishing pond owner was coming up to the stage, looking deathly pale.
At the sight of an author who looked nothing like Yun Woo, a wave of disappointment started rising within the audience. The student abroad clicked his tongue at the fans’ blatant attitude.
“He looks so nervous. I hope he doesn’t pass out or something,” Silver Rings said. Just as she had said, the fishing pond owner seemed like he was about to collapse onstage at any given minute. Then, taking the microphone that was handed to him by a staff member, the fishing pond owner mustered up the courage to greet the audience, “Hello.”
Weak-sounding applause came from the audience.
“Thank you all for coming,” the author said, reciting the lines he had memorized ahead of time. Meanwhile, the members of the audience listened to him quietly, completely devoid of any excitement. Rather, there were clear signs among them that they were experiencing a sense of loss.
With that, the author sat in front of the laptop, took a deep breath, stretched his fingers and placed them on the keyboard. As he started typing his first sentence, the same words appeared on the screen simultaneously: The hunt turned out to be a failure today.
Without saying a word to each other, the authors on the second floor concentrated on the words that were appearing on the screen. The author onstage had chosen a story about hunting, and indicative of his current occupation, he was portraying the act of hunting in great detail.
“This is not bad at all!” Silver Rings said, impressed. The story appearing on the screen was definitely enough to convince the audience that the author was presenting alongside Yun Woo for a reason. It was an interesting subject and quite riveting. Then, looking away from the stage briefly, Juho looked in Sung Pil’s direction.
“So, this is what it’s gonna be like,” Sung Pil said, fixing his eyes on the author on the stage writing in front of the readers.
“I think I’m getting the gist of this.”
Aside from experiencing it personally, there was no other way to understand the current atmosphere in which the fishing pond owner was writing. Now, Sung Pil was starting to finally understand, and the three others looking down at the stage had to be having similar realizations.
“I’m kind of afraid now that I know what this is like,” a voice came from the seat at the end of the row. It was the student abroad.
To which, Silver Rings agreed, “They say people are most daring when they’re ignorant. I feel like being that ignorant person all of a sudden.”
“You mean, you wanna be more daring?” Sung Pil said, correcting her, and Silver Rings shrugged in a light-hearted manner. The lighting on the stage, the focus of the audience, and the sentences getting exposed on the screen in real time, it was a riveting sight.
“I better step up my game,” Sung Pil said, making Juho wince. When seeing the presentation taking place in person, they couldn’t help but feel that they had to give it their best.
Resting his chin on his hand, Juho said nonchalantly, “I wonder what it would look like if I screw this up…”
“But you were so confident in front of the reporters.”
“That doesn’t mean I’m not worried,” Juho said, identifying with what the student abroad had said: “I’m afraid now that I know.”
“What’s with you, though?” Sung Pil asked, looking intently at Juho.
“You look like Silver Rings.”
“What does that mean?” Juho asked.
“It means you look like you’re anxious to write.”
As Sung Pil clarified, Juho looked toward the stage. Although clearly shaking, the author onstage was tackling the challenge before him one word at a time. In the end, the fishing pond owner hadn’t given in to fear.
“Because nobody’s looking for Yun Woo anymore.”
Later, the fishing pond owner successfully finished his presentation.
The next day, at the same time and place, Juho, Sung Pil, the student abroad and the fishing pond owner watched Silver Rings’ presentation from the second floor. As if a musician would with their audience, she pointed the microphone toward the members of the audience. Although they responded with similar disappointment to the day before, they were caught off guard by the author onstage pointing her mic toward them. Despite the weak response, she didn’t let up.
“Let’s try this again. Hello!”
As the audience started responding more enthusiastically, a satisfied smile appeared on Silver Rings’ face.
“Today, we’re gonna have some background music,” she declared. Then, pointing at the desk on the stage, she said, “I have my entire playlist on that laptop over there. Whenever I’m thinking about what to write, I always have music playing in the background. It’s kind of like a strange study habit, something I’m sure we all have at least one of.”
Walking around the stage freely, she interacted with the audience, not minding at all whether they were responding to her or not. Then, sitting at the desk, she started going through her playlist. She seemed to let her mood make the decision for her.
“You know what? Let’s go with something heavier today. ROCK AND ROLL!” she shouted, throwing her fist in the air. As the members of the audience started breaking out into laughter, they were immediately caught off guard by the jarring death metal tune and its distinct growling vocals.
“I hope that flies,” the student abroad said, furrowing his brow. Silver Ring was the only person lost in the music.
“She’s got quite the stage presence,” the fishing pond owner said quietly, sounding like he admired the author on the stage.
“You did great yesterday,” Juho said, and the fishing pond owner looked at the young author with a look of satisfaction on his face.
“I’m sure it was nowhere near Yun Woo’s level, but I sure did my best. All I can do is wait for the results and enjoy the event,” the fishing pond owner said, whispering, “I look forward to your presentation, Mr. Woo.”
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