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This chapter is updated by Wuxia.Blog
Translated by: ShawnSuh
Edited by: SootyOwl
Silver Rings had won her Rookie of the Year Award two years after Yun Woo had debuted as an author. However, Yun Woo’s appearance had also minimized the significance of the award, shaking her future as an author to its foundation. While readers had started demanding a finished product from someone who had had never written a single book in her entire life, the media had also focused on her weak points as an author, as if baffled by them. To add insult to injury, the judges of the contest had become conscious of the media and had raised the bar to an unrealistic level. Although the publisher responded by bringing Yun Seo Baek into the judging committee in order to break the cycle, Silver Rings had made her debut before Yun Seo became a judge.
Looking at the screen, it was clear that Silver Rings had come with a sense of purpose. Amid the music, which others would argue it being noise, her first sentence appeared on the screen: “My brother is deaf.”
“She’s definitely going somewhere with this,” the student abroad said quietly and Juho agreed. It was clear that she had polished the sentence repeatedly in her mind. It was stable. Waiting for the next sentence on the screen, every member of the audience had a serious expression on their face. Watching a story take shape was also a new experience for readers, and some might even think that were feeling closer to the story than they were able to with a completed book. The ingredients and the process through which the story came about was becoming more and more visible, as if in a donut shop that fully exposed its cooking process to its customers. The customers would be able to enjoy its quality product at ease. A unique reading experience tended to heighten the readers’ concentration.
“I think so too, but I can’t predict the direction the story will go.”
“I don’t think I’ve ever been so desperate to skip to the end to see what happens. I’m so curious.”
Her story was quite interesting, even to the authors.
“I think she’s looking at us,” Sung Pil said. When Juho looked at Silver Rings, she was looking up at the second floor, from where they were watching her. Although she couldn’t see them due to the structure of the building, Juho sensed the determination in her eyes as if he had locked eyes with her.
“I love the story and all, but is this heinous music really necessary?” the student abroad grumbled, shaking his head as if the music wasn’t to his liking. Her writing was reminiscent of rock music. That day in particular, things were especially heavy, unlike on the one of the fishing pond owner, whose style had more in common with folk music. Even if they were to write on a shared subject, such as sadness, it was inevitable that they would come up with two completely different products.
“What do you like listening to?”
“Why, there’s nothing like classical music!” the student abroad said, bringing up names like Mozart and his home country, raving about the genre’s history. Needless to say, nobody paid attention to his exposition.
“As long as the writer likes it, that’s all that matters, right?”
“Hold on! You’re not telling me I have to listen to this until the end, are you!?”
“I don’t know. Who knows what she’s feeling today?” Juho said, and the student abroad looked down at the stage, disgruntled. Once the song ended, the next song started playing, which also was another heavy metal tune. Then, massaging his temples as if his patience was wearing thin, the student abroad said, “I have to go. I can’t stand this.”
“But she’s still in the midst of it,” Sung Pil said. At which point, the student abroad sneered and said, “I’m presenting tomorrow and I can’t afford to waste my time listening to this atrocious noise. Conditioning is essential the day before a presentation. If I stick around any longer, listening to this, I have a feeling that I’ll end up vomiting everything out, including my writing.”
“You better get going, then. As you said, it’s important to take care of yourself,” the fishing pond owner said, nodding and looking like he understood. With that, the student abroad rose from his seat without hesitation, glancing at Juho for a brief moment. However, Juho paid no attention to him.
“What did she say her name was?” somebody in the audience asked. By the time the attention span of the members of the audience started deteriorating rapidly, a disturbance rose from them. It had been about an hour and a half since the presentation had started, and the author was writing a story about a disabled narrator and their deaf sibling, who lived in a secluded society. The narrator’s friend knew nothing about their sibling. Similarly, the friends of the sibling knew nothing about the narrator. The two were never together, nevermind walking or eating together. They distanced themselves, despising each other, misunderstanding each other. At that moment, somebody started crying out in the audience amid the music. Everyone in the hall had grasped the message the author was trying to convey to them.
“Seems like the narrator needs to be more isolated.”
“It is pretty extreme and radical, but I actually like it.”
Although it was far from perfect, Silver Rings’ story was quite riveting. Judging from the expressions on the faces in the audience alone, it was clear that they were completely mesmerized by it. Then, as her music came to a sudden end, her story also came to an end.
“Well, how was it? Did you all enjoy it?” she asked, without a trace of weariness on her face.
At that moment, the members of the audience shouted with an enthusiasm never seen before, “Yeah!”
“That was great!”
A satisfied look appeared on Silver Rings’ face, similar to that of the fishing pond owner.
“Whoever’s presenting tomorrow, I can only imagine how nerve-racking it must be for him,” the fishing pond owner said. Of course, since the student abroad, who was set to present next, wasn’t there, there was no response. When Juho looked at the faces of the members of the audience as they made their way out, he noticed that they were all cheerful.
“I wonder if people will look that cheerful after reading my story,” Sung Pil murmured. The next day, when the authors reunited in the waiting room, the student abroad didn’t appear to be all that nervous. Keeping his eyes closed with his arms crossed, he was probably still preparing himself.
“Should we let him be?” Silver Rings suggested to Juho. However, as Juho quietly backed away, Silver Rings strode into the room and said, “Hi!”
“Hello,” the student abroad said briefly. Aside from him, Juho and Silver Rings were the only two authors who had arrived. Then, making a V sign with her fingers, she said, “Are you nervous that you’re going after me?”
“Not at all,” the student abroad replied with a smile.
“Don’t be coy, now. Didn’t you hear the audience? They loved me!”
“Seems like you’re not aware that I left early.”
“You did?” she asked. Without letting up, she started raving about her performance. Silver Rings seemed to be noticeably more talkative than before. There was a clear difference between a person’s attitude after finishing their task, and one who had yet to do so. As the last person to present, Juho didn’t exactly find the situation welcoming.
“Aren’t you curious about the manuscript I’m about to present?” the student abroad asked.
“Not really. I get to see it in a little bit, so I’m not in a hurry,” Juho said honestly, and a look of displeasure appeared on the student abroad’s face, as if he didn’t like what he had heard.
“I am!” Silver Rings said, and the student abroad took the opportunity to talk about his manuscript.
“It’s a novel based on a journal I wrote while I was studying abroad.”
“So, it’s gonna be more of an autobiography, then?”
“There aren’t that many ways you can stand up against Yun Woo,” the student abroad said, looking down at his toes. Then, with a smile, he added, “I’m just relieved that I’m not presenting just before Yun Woo. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be able to say anything, even if he were to leave in the middle of my presentation.”
The student abroad was sincerely hoping that Yun Woo would read his story.
“I’m sticking around til the end,” Juho said, reassuring him.
“Is conditioning a luxury for Yun Woo?”
“Not necessarily, but I am curious. It’s the same thing as you watching my presentation. You’re gonna be around, right?”
“Hold on! Does that mean you left while I was presenting because you weren’t all that interested in my story?” Silver Rings said, reaching over and separating Juho and the student abroad.
“I was just prioritizing my condition,” the student abroad replied briefly.
At that, she crossed her arms, with the confident look of a heavy metal vocalist on her face.
“Eh, whatever. Zelkova did promise that they’d publish the good ones. I’m sure you’ll see my novel in bookstores in the near future.”
When Juho came up to the second floor after talking with the student abroad, he learned that the other authors had already arrived, and before long, the hall was filled to the brim with readers. Seeing it for the third time, Juho was quite used to the sight. Just like always, the members of the audience had no idea of which author was presenting that day.
“Wonder what he’s bringing to light?” Sung Pil asked. Shrugging, Juho replied, “He said it’s a story based on his life while he was studying abroad.”
“Aren’t you worried?”
Sung Pil was presenting the next day. and the better the forerunners did, the more pressure the authors presenting later would feel.
“A little,” he said, scratching his eyebrows. At the unexpected answer, Juho looked toward him, and Sung Pil said, “But you’re goin’ after me, though.”
At that moment, a commotion started breaking out in the audience. When Juho looked toward it, he saw the student abroad going up to the stage.
“That’s not Yun Woo,” a member of the audience said, clearly disappointed. However, paying no attention to it, the author onstage took the microphone that was handed to him by a staff member and said, “Bummer it’s not Yun Woo, am I right?”
At that, a burst of laughter came from the audience, as if the people were feeling exposed, and he student abroad waited until the laughter died down before he started speaking again.
“The story I’m about to present to you takes place in Europe, and all the characters within it are foreigners,” he said, revealing the brief synopsis of the story he was about to write. Although initially disappointed that Yun Woo wasn’t presenting, the members of the audience started listening intently to the author onstage.
“So, I’d like to ask you all to be mindful of that as you’re reading. If I was planning on getting it published, then I wouldn’t have gone as far as asking my readers to read with a certain mindset, but this is a special occasion because you’re reading while I’m writing in real time. A face-to-face interaction, if you will. Should you have any questions or trouble understanding something, please raise your hand. I may or may not see your hand, but if I do, I’ll be more more than happy to allow you to speak.”
“That’s a good idea,” the fishing pond owner said, nodding. The author onstage was allowing the audience to take part in the presentation, and it wasn’t a bad idea at all. In terms of the interaction with the audience, student abroad was even more hands-on than Silver Rings.
“I’m aware that the author who presented yesterday was writing to some heavy metal tunes, but I’m gonna be honest with you, it’s not something I’m really into. So, there won’t be any music today, and I’ll be writing in silence,” the author onstage declared to his audience and sat in front of the laptop, which displayed a blank page. With that, the author started typing away without hesitation. The audience was still somewhat disorderly, however.
“I couldn’t speak to anybody,” the fishing pond owner murmured the sentence that appeared on the top of the screen. Not only was the character far away from home, but there was a language barrier. Because they couldn’t answer when the natives talked to them, it wasn’t long before the character found themselves alone, unapproached.
“I bet language barrier is hardly a concern for you,” Silver Rings said to Yun Woo, waving her hand in an exaggerated manner. After some thought, Juho replied, “I’m not completely foreign to the idea.”
“But you pick up other languages in no time. That’s what makes you a genius, right?”
“To learn something means that you didn’t know it prior,” Juho said, shrugging.
“A-ha! Touché,” she said. However, she wasn’t completely wrong, either. There was a clear difference between the life of a student abroad studying far away from home, and the process through which Juho had gone before reaching where he was currently.
“That’s got a good ring to it,” the fishing pond owner murmured, and the other authors nodded in agreement. The author onstage seemed more inclined to write in longer sentences, which also called for more improvements. The flashier something was, the more maintenance it required.
“This is a slow-burner, huh?”
“The longer sentences really work well with the detailed setting though.”
Although he often wrote in lengthy sentences, it was the student abroad’s style to make the most out of it. Judging from the sentences appearing on the screen, he seemed to be doing quite well. There was an element of rejection throughout his story. A village that ostracized outsiders. Xenophobic friends. The narrator who opposed those rejections.
“It must’ve been pretty tough living in another country all by himself.”
Although the story seemed to be talking about love and benevolence on surface, it was ruthlessly exposing the discriminatory tendencies of people at the core of it. On top of that, the sophisticated beauty accentuated the gap even more.
“Look at the audience. They’ve been completely sucked in,” the fishing pond owner said, looking down at them. Only then, did it occur to Juho that he hadn’t looked down once. Completely immersed in the writing appearing on the screen, the members of the audience were in a similar situation.
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