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This chapter is updated by Wuxia.Blog
Translated by: ShawnSuh
Edited by: SootyOwl
‘Fans Disappointed by Yun Woo’s Absence, but the Show Goes On! The Rebellion of the Nameless Authors? Gems Hiding in Plain Sight?’
‘”This Isn’t Just About Yun Woo Anymore.” The Fierce Battle of the Young Authors.’
‘”I Went to See Yun Woo, but I Came Back in Love with Another Author.” The Web Goes Wild over the Presentation at the Exhibition. The Names That Have Been Appearing on the Most Searched Words on the Internet? Young Authors Seizing the Opportunity.’
‘When’s Yun Woo Presenting? Fans Devastated by His Absence.’
‘Heavy Metal? Tips on Writing Straight from an Author? The Writing Process Beyond Anyone’s Imagination.’
‘”Where Did They Come From?” The Hidden Gems Appear Out of Nowhere! A New Wave in the Literary World.’
‘The Potentials of the Literary World According to the Nameless Authors. There’s a Bright Future Ahead! Authors with Special Sets of Skills.’
‘”But wait! There’s More!” Youth Portrayed by a Legion of Young Authors. The Power of Young Blood.’
‘Where Is Yun Woo? When Is He Presenting? Two Authors Said to Be Left, Leaving Fans on the Edge of Their Seats. “We Want Yun Woo!”‘
‘Sung Pil, the Winner of This Year’s Rookie of the Year Award, Said to Be the Next Presenter. The Battle of the Twenties?’
“I have a friend who went to this! He loved it.”
“All the reviews have been positive so far. At first, I was disappointed that Yun Woo wasn’t there, but who would’ve thought I’d come across new authors?”
“My jaw dropped when the girl started writing to heavy metal music! I love it! She needs to consider starting a band!”
“Love me some rock. Did she really write to heavy metal, though?”
“Zelkova’s doing a really good job letting the authors be themselves, which, in my opinion, makes the experience twice as much fun.”
“I loved the presentation today! The author shared some information with the audience to be mindful of when reading, and sure enough, it was definitely a different experience reading with those pieces of information in mind. It was a-whole-nother world! Today was a good day.”
“He was such a good writer. I guess that’s what makes him an author.”
“Yeah! It read so well! What’s even crazier is that it’ll be even higher quality when it gets made into a book.”
“It was like being at a book release or a cooking competition between professional chefs! It definitely felt like the authors put a lot of work into their presentations. Definitely worth the money.”
“I thought I’d get bored out of my mind reading for two hours straight, but time literally flew by! Sure, it’s not a movie theater where they’re equipped with top-of-the-line sound and projector systems or flashy visual and sound effects, but this event is a-whole-nother beast of its own. If a similar event happens in the future, I’m there.”
“I would’ve loved to be there. If only I had a ticket…”
“They were all sold out, thanks to Yun Woo.”
“I heard getting one was near impossible! How did these people do it!?”
“I’m going tomorrow, and I PRAY that Yun Woo’s presenting. I really, really wanna see Yun Woo write in person.”
“Mine’s the day after. Yun Woo better not be there tomorrow! Not till I get there!”
“Wonder how Yun Woo writes.”
On the day of the presentation, Sung Pil was wandering around the hallway. After rigorous consideration, he had chosen a manuscript that he felt confident presenting to Yun Woo and the readers. ‘Would they like it?’ he asked himself.
“I just hope this doesn’t bite me in the butt later, somehow.”
He was under quite a lot of pressure. Then, stopping in his tracks, he thought about what would happen if he were to disappear. There was bound to be those who’d suffer losses, which would include disappointing the readers. His debut title would be the last book he’d ever write. The reporters would do everything within their power to make sure his identity got revealed to the public, placing him on the chopping block, and eventually getting him deported out of the country. His imagination kept working.
Sung Pil thought back to the time when he had rambled on to Juho while drunk, nearly threatening him against running away from their imminent face-off. As he started walking forward again, he tried to comfort himself by thinking more positive thoughts. He had seen somebody buy his book for the first time before his eyes. He was recognized by another person for the first time. People actually started talking to him, including his professor, complimenting him. ‘Everything will be OK.’
“You’re up in ten minutes. Get ready.”
When the other authors visited Sung Pil in the waiting room, Juho wasn’t among them. The authors who had already presented seemed to be much more at ease. They didn’t seem to think of Sung Pil as a threat. The student abroad, in particular, had a cocky look about him. When he had finished writing, the audience had exploded into applause, which had been a first since the start of the event. After that, there had been noticeably more articles written about him and the event in a positive light. In that situation, neither advancing nor retreating was easy.
“Sigh,” Sung Pil exhaled, rising from his seat. While following a member of the staff to the stage, he read through his manuscript one more time. Although he had every single sentence memorized, he brushed up on them regardless. Soon, the stairs leading up to the stage appeared before his eyes, and the voices of the readers talking among themselves could be heard. Then, with a tap on the shoulder from the staff member signaling him to go up, Sung Pil let his legs take him up to the stage. The bright light exposed him to the audience as he walked on it.
Yun Woo. They were the first words Sung Pil heard onstage. The view was quite different from the second floor. He was in the limelight and, before he knew it, he had a microphone in his hand.
“Hello. I’m Sung Pil,” he said. As the author introduced himself, the audience grew quieter.
“I debuted as an author this year.”
Everyone looked at him as if looking at somebody for the first time. Nobody knew who he was. At that moment, the name Yun Woo flashed in his mind. The eyes with which the audiences looked at Yun Woo looked nothing like the eyes they were using to look at Sung Pil. Turning his gaze, Sung Pil looked up to the second floor, wondering about the look on his friend’s face.
“But that isn’t to say that I just started writing this year. I genuinely respect all the authors who have presented up to this point. So, I’ll do my absolute best.”
The audience showed no response to his somewhat heavy-handed remark. Although it wasn’t necessarily out of hostility, they weren’t necessarily welcoming of the author either. However, Sung Pil paid no attention to them and said, “Let us begin.”
Putting the microphone down, he reminded himself that he was being watched by Yun Woo and of how much he wanted to outdo the author, wanting to stand side by side with him. More accurately, he wanted to be slightly ahead of his friend. He wanted to see what it was like to be at the top, which was precisely the reason he had a manuscript in his hand. Although the stories written by the presenting authors before him were all interesting, they weren’t enough to keep Sung Pil on his toes. The author thought about his friend and of when he first came across his friend’s writing. Then, he typed out the first sentence, which he had read hundreds of times prior to the presentation.
“I had lost my memory.”
Sung Pil had chosen a narrator who had lost their memory, enduring life alone in a place where everything felt foreign.
“It’s like getting left out at school,” Silver Rings said. Having lost their memory, the narrator struggled to find a place to belong. Nobody was willing to let the narrator into their group, and the narrator departed willingly from the one group they had barely managed to become part of. Sung Pil unfolded the story in a very convincing manner, and the friendliness in his writing enabled the readers to empathize with the character.
“That must be his best bet,” Silver Rings said, resting her chin on her hand. With which, Juho agreed internally.
“I did the same thing,” she said. She had also chosen a subject and materials she had felt most confident with, probably having written several stories with them.
“Same here,” the fishing pond owner said, raising his hand. The student abroad also agreed silently.
“What do you think Yun Woo’s will be like?” the fishing pond owner asked.
“It’s coming up. Wait just a little longer,” Juho replied, fixing his eyes on the screen.
“How come you came late today? I thought you were coming to the waiting room with us.”
After some thought, Juho replied, “I’m keeping Sung Pil in check.”
“Haha! Were you having a stomach problem?”
“You slept in, didn’t you?”
Nobody seemed to take it seriously that Juho was keeping Sung Pil in check. Considering that Sung Pil was the youngest and the newest, their response to Juho’s statement made sense. Although Sung Pil’s debut title was outstanding, everyone else’s debut titles had been just as good.
“Look at that,” somebody said, pointing at the screen.
“Seems like he’s off to a good start,” the fishing pond owner said calmly. The audience didn’t seem too convinced by what they were seeing on the screen. However, Sung Pil was clever in the way he built his story. The words on the screen indicated to the authors that the author onstage was establishing a foundation. The fact that he got off on the right foot was a promising indicator that things would look up soon.
And as if proving that, the authors and the audience alike grew quieter. At the appearance of a dark horse, the authors, with the exception of Juho, started growing anxious.
“He’s good,” the fishing pond owner said. And taking that as a signal, the other authors started pouring out their thoughts about Sung Pil’s writing.
“Seems like he really knows how to establish a good foundation. It lets the readers focus on the narrator’s situation without the author having to explain why their memory isn’t there.”
“His descriptions are impressive.”
“Didn’t think he’d actually try that hard to outdo us.”
The story had a clear sense of direction and the members of the audience grew increasingly curious as to how the narrator, who was overwhelmed with a sense of loss, would go about recovering their lost memory. The curiosity of the audience provided momentum for them to keep on reading in anticipation for the next sentence, making sure they weren’t missing anything. As if aware of that, Sung Pil maintained a steady pace. He, too, was quite stable. Despite the lack of music or interaction, the audience felt sufficiently connected with the author. It was a relationship established through writing. Juho also focused on the words that appeared on the screen, thinking, ‘What is he trying to say?’ Aside from a handful of authors moaning from time to time as if representing what Juho was feeling, the hall was completely silent. Then, as the story reached the halfway point, the fishing pond owner said, “I’m gonna get going now,” and started packing his belongings.
When asked for the reason for his early departure, he looked up instead of giving an answer. From the sentences to the plot development, Sung Pil’s writing was clearly better than his in every aspect. After sensing his failure, the fishing pond owner gave up on his dream of getting his writing made into a book almost immediately.
“Sung Pil’s the same age as Yun Woo, I believe. He has just debuted, so he doesn’t have a whole lot of experience.”
At the mention of experience, Juho looked toward the screen inadvertently. Being ostracized and feeling isolated, those were subjects Sung Pil excelled in. He had been holding on to them for a long time.
“What he has going on at the moment is special and unique to him, similar to our writing. You can just tell from those sentences,” the student abroad said in a calm tone of voice. Then, wiping his forehead, the fishing pond owner replied, “I know. That was a slip of tongue. But for now, I’m gonna get going. I’ll see you all tomorrow.”
Unlike Yun Woo, Sung Pil wasn’t a genius. In the fishing pond owner’s mind, the one competitor who would beat him was Yun Woo and Yun Woo alone. Sung Pil, on the other hand, was supposed to be the least formidable opponent. Yet, his writing was proving to be just as intimidating.
“But if you stick around till the end…” Silver Rings said, but she closed her lips shortly after. Even without a formal evaluation or a tangible score, the unseen defeat was much more apparent that she thought. After she locked eyes with the fishing pond owner, he left in a hurry, and the air sank into silence. At that moment, Juho was struck by the thought of Gray Hat and the manuscript he had. The show had to go on, with or without the fishing pond owner.
“This is getting disconcerting,” the student abroad said quietly. It wasn’t clear if he was referring to his situation or the situation within the novel. Then, looking away from the audience, Juho read the story on the screen. Although finding themselves in a peaceful place after losing their memory and place to belong, that peace was short-lived. However, unlike the situations prior to that scene, the narrator had let go of their peace willingly as they grew jealous of their friend. Although the story had been heading toward the climax from a crisis, it started receding back to yet another crisis.
“There is an end to this story, right?”
“Doesn’t seem like things are about to change any time soon, huh?”
“He’s almost out of time, and I thought the story was almost at the end.”
There wasn’t a rule stating that the presenting author had to finish their story within a given time. Rather, the focus of the event was in showcasing an author’s writing process to the readers. The story came to an end when the segment came to an end. So far, all of the authors who had presented had written their story in their entirety. But what about Sung Pil?
“Ah! That should do it.”
As Juho kept his eyes fixed on the screen, he made sense of the disturbance coming from the audience. A character had appeared, the character that would wrap up the story.
“The red stranger.”
It was that stranger who saved the narrator from their life spiraling downward. At that moment, Juho reminisced to the time when he met Sung Pil for the first time. Sung Pil had been on his way to the police station after finding some money on the street. From picking up the money on the street to finding the narrator’s lost memory, it was all the stranger’s doing. Juho still remembered that the money had never ended up returning to the person it had once belonged, and it seemed like Sung Pil had had trouble accepting that reality ever since.
“Much better,” somebody said. Finally, as Sung Pil wrapped up his last sentence, the audience exploded into applause and cheers for him. Not only were they satisfied by Sung Pil’s writing, but they were also impressed by the quality of the event. The cheering crowd was incomparably louder than that time when Sung Pil cheered on the phone call with Juho.
Amid the readers cheering and applauding him, Sung Pil rose from his seat unhurriedly, faced the audience, bowed slowly, and came down from the stage. Sung Pil had far surpassed anybody’s expectations. As the applause died down, the audience started making their way out of the hall, each looking just as excited as the other.
Sung Pil was proving to be a much more formidable opponent than Juho had thought. Feeling an itch on his palm, Juho rubbed his palms together. Leaning his head back, he remembered the weak points of his manuscript one by one, barely managing to swallow the words that had come up to his throat. However, they still lingered in his thoughts. After the authors had made their way out, leaving Juho alone, he tried murmuring that thought in his head, “Maybe I need to make some adjustments to it.”
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