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This chapter is updated by Wuxia.Blog
Translated by: ShawnSuh
Edited by: SootyOwl
In order to meet up with Sung Pil, Juho made his way to the waiting room. However, before he reached the hallway, he was stopped midway by Nam Kyung, who seemed quite anxious for some reason.
“Why didn’t you answer your phone!? Thank goodness I found you.”
“What is it?”
“You can’t go there. The waiting room is swarming with reporters.”
After his editor’s warning, Juho peeked over his shoulders toward the waiting room, where there were a number of reporters with a camera crew taping Sung Pil’s interviewing. Although there weren’t that many people, it was definitely out of the norm. Meanwhile, Sung Pil seemed deeply moved. Although others might not have been able to catch on, it was apparent to Juho that his friend had yet to reconnect with reality. His experience on the stage should still be raw in his mind.
“Do you think that you can surpass Yun Woo?” one of the reporters, who looked quite familiar, asked the author.
“Mr. Woo hasn’t presented yet, so I think it’s too early for that question.”
“Still! That was some quality novel, Sung Pil!”
At that moment, Sung Pil looked in Juho’s direction, locking eyes with him. Although recognizing Juho from afar, Sung Pil didn’t walk toward his friend. Instead, he simply looked like he was enjoying the occasion.
“Who the heck does this guy think he is?” Nam Kyung said, pulling Yun Woo back. Then, he led the young author to another room, which had a sign that read ‘Off Limits.’
“That Sung Pil, he’s a good writer,” Nam Kyung said briefly, complimenting Sung Pil.
“He sure is.”
Although he seemed like he had a lot he wanted to talk about with Yun Woo, the editor seemed to prioritize Juho’s condition for his presentation the next day. However, Juho wasn’t looking for that kind of consideration.
“It was impressive. People were cheering in the end, and it almost made me feel like I was at some recital. I was happy for him.”
Being under the bright spotlight, Juho’s friend had definitely shone brightly onstage. Studying the young author’s expression, Nam Kyung asked cautiously, “… Aren’t you nervous?”
At that, Juho looked intently at his editor. At which point, Nam Kyung added in a hurry, “It’s just that he’s not the only one who did really well. Yes, it’s a GOOD THING, but I also thought that it might have made you feel like you had to keep up with them, and that could be burdensome.”
“Do you think I don’t stand a chance against them?”
At that, Nam Kyung hardened his expression almost immediately and said, “Don’t be ridiculous now! Your writing is THE best.”
“I think you’re the one being ridiculous here,” Juho said, smiling.
At which point, Nam Kyung softened his expression and said, “You know, you’re right. You had such a thick skin while we were in the States. I’m sure this doesn’t even come close to bothering you.”
“I’m making some adjustments to my manuscript,” Juho said, rubbing his hands together. At that, Nam Kyung asked with a dumbfounded expression on his face, “I’m sorry, what?”
“I’m making changes to my manuscript.”
“… OK, that’s not funny. You know what? I was wrong. Yun Woo’s human, too.”
“I think I’ll be able to come up with something even better than what I have.”
“Wait, you’re serious!?” Nam Kyung exclaimed, looking at the young author in disbelief and shouting, “No!”
“Why not? I’ll tell you why. You’re presenting tomorrow.”
“And you wanna make changes to your manuscript NOW? The day before you present it? As much as I’d love to support your decision, I think this is a terrible idea.”
“I can pull it off.”
At a loss for words, Nam Kyung sprung up from his seat and started pacing back and forth in the room.
“You have to think clearly. I don’t know what happened to make you think that, but try to give your thoughts some time.”
Nam Kyung seemed to think that Juho was coming from a place of anxiety and insecurity, so Juho spoke up in order to correct him, “I am thinking clearly.”
However, Nam Kyung shook his head even more emphatically, looking as if facing an unexpected crisis.
“You saw how these authors write, right? They’re all very stable, and it’s definitely wise to play safe in this case. You know how cumbersome it can be for authors to reveal their writing to their readers, don’t you? That’s exactly why we revised your manuscript rigorously ahead of time. And now, you wanna throw all that out the window? Do you really think you have enough time to finish this? We went through all that trouble just so you could have something better to present!”
“I just wanted to show my readers something even better.”
“OK, pause there. So, where are you getting this certainty that it’s gonna turn out EVEN better in the end? You might be Yun Woo, but a first draft is nothing more than a first draft at the end of the day.”
“I wouldn’t go as far as calling it the first draft. I’d say it’s closer to… a makeover?”
“Again, what makes you so cert… Wait, is this going to be an autobiography?” Nam Kyung asked, his expression changing abruptly. After locking eyes with him for a little while, Juho said, “No.”
“Then, it’s a no.”
“It’s something I think about habitually, tens of thousands of times. I’ve thought about it over and over. I can do it.”
Juho was also aware of everything Nam Kyung was telling him. There was a significant chance that he wouldn’t be able to finish in time, making it worse than it was. However, he was struck by an idea too good to pass up, tempting him to take the risk, making him think it would be cowardly not to act on it. Of course, not giving his best in the presence of his readers would be a luxury. Meanwhile, Nam Kyung had a stunned look on his face, still perplexed by the young author’s sudden declaration. Then, covering his mouth with his hand, the editor immersed himself in thought.
“… No, what you have now is already plenty good enough. Why gamble?”
“Are you sure? Why were you so concerned for me then? Wasn’t it because something made you anxious?”
“I told you that’s not the reason!”
“If my writing really was the best, you’d have encouraged me to keep doing things the way I have been. Instead of asking if I was nervous, you’d have reassured me, telling me not to worry about a thing, because you wouldn’t be questioning that it would turn out well.”
Nam Kyung furrowed his brow, clenching his lips. There had to be something bothering him.
“OK. I’ll fess up. I was just worried because of Sung Pil, and Sung Pil only, because I liked his writing better than your debut title. That’s really it. Overall, I don’t doubt that your writing is significantly better, but we also have to take the situation into account. Sung Pil just made his debut. He’s fresh, and people don’t know what to expect from him. Anything he does will impress them and far surpass their expectations,” Nam Kyung said. Then, swallowing, he added, “Unlike you.”
Looking down, Juho pinched his palm. As his hands tensed up, the young author rubbed his belly slowly, saying, “I think I’m about to have indigestion.”
“I’m doing it. No matter what, I have to.”
The air sank into a silence soon to be broken by a clattering sound, a whir of a machine, and by the editor’s foot rubbing against the floor as he shook his leg. In the end, Nam Kyung surrendered, throwing both of his hands into the air and quickly offering a second solution.
“OK. We’ll give it a shot then. And if you don’t finish in time, we’ll go with the one we had originally prepared.”
“What if I don’t finish in time, but it’s still noticeably better than what we have now?”
“I didn’t think that far ahead, honestly,” Nam Kyung said. To which, Juho replied as if answering for him, “I’ll keep making changes, even onstage.”
At that, a look of disbelief appeared on Nam Kyung’s face all over again.
“Might I remind you that this isn’t some spontaneous writing contest, Mr. Woo!?”
“Either way, I get to present my writing process to readers.”
“You’re doing this on purpose, aren’t you?” Nam Kyung said with a chuckle as if sighing. “You do know that the director of the editing department will be there, right? Not to mention the president of the company? Now that the news is out that Yun Woo’s presenting, there will be at least twice as many reporters. After all, this is the writing process of Yun Woo, the genius author.”
“Yes, I am,” Juho said calmly.
At which point, Nam Kyung gave a lengthy speech, “Did you hear what I just said? It means there’s no room for errors! You were given the luxury to prepare a manuscript in advance, and if it turns out what you’re presenting doesn’t measure up, then that’s an issue. You far surpass most authors, and more importantly, you’re famous! You have to understand that these things could work against you!”
“I’m aware of that.”
“Are you now? ‘Cause it sounds to me like you don’t realize the magnitude of the matter.”
“I do, which is exactly why I need to make those changes.”
Juho had an even better story in mind, almost as if it lingered before his eyes. There were brilliant ideas floating around in his head. However, acting on them just so he could protect his dignity and position as an author wasn’t what the young author wanted. He wanted to move up even higher, away from the place he was in. In which case, it made logical sense to keep moving in some way.
“You sure you thought this through?” Nam Kyung asked, as if confirming with the young author.
Since reading ‘The Full Moon,’ his friend had visited him. Sung Pil had been sending the young author an unusual signal. On top of that, there was a certain reader who actively hoped for his misfortune. Everything in conjunction had impacted Juho in some way, even as he was speaking to his editor.
“For the most part,” Juho replied.
“And you still wanna do this?”
Nam Kyung knew Juho and his tendencies. Even if he were to disagree with Juho, the young author would still do what he believed he should. Similarly, even if Juho were to decide not to follow through with his idea, he would eventually resort to making the changes to his manuscript. The itch on his hand was getting unbearable.
“Well, make it happen. ASAP. You got it?” Nam Kyung said.
With that, Juho sprung from his seat as if about to run home at any given minute. Then, Nam Kyung stopped him and asked, “Can you at least tell me the story you have in mind?”
There was a sense of desperation in his voice. To which, Juho answered with a smile, “It’s about Yun Woo’s downfall.”
“Oh, man. I’m screwed!” Nam Kyung let out, looking through all of his pockets. He seemed to have left the sedatives at home. Juho was thankful for his editor for always taking care of him. Although Nam Kyung thought about asking the employees around for a sedative, the editor gave up shortly after.
There were two separate manuscripts before Juho’s eyes, and only one of them would see the light of day. One of them was about Gray Hat, which Juho was inspired to write upon finding out that he was going to write in front of an audience. The one next to it was a manuscript he had written frantically from yesterday until that very morning. Juho tried replacing the name Gray Hat with his alias, Yun Woo. He simply couldn’t imagine Gray Hat becoming the Great Storyteller. Soon, Juho made up his mind.
“It’s time,” Nam Kyung said, checking the time.
“Yep. I’ve been ready for a while now.”
“… Right,” Nam Kyung said, looking deathly pale, his lips parched.
“Are you really gonna write the ending on the stage?” he asked.
“That’s the plan.”
“How about you just go with the other one?”
“But you’re the one who liked this one better.”
With the exception of the ending, Juho had completed his new manuscript in time. Although it wasn’t entirely devoid of one, he had found it unsatisfying, no matter how many times he read it. At which point, Nam Kyung suggested that the young author go with the first manuscript they had originally intended to use.
“But there’s still time.”
“No, there isn’t.”
Thinking about how to wrap up his story on one hand, the young author thought back to the competing authors and their performances. Though extremely nervous, the fishing pond owner had finished his segment successfully. While Silver Rings openly interacted with the audience, the student abroad had received some applause. The explosive applause and cheers by the audience lingered in Juho’s ears. The feel he was looking for was just within reach, something tangible enough that he could almost touch it.
“I don’t think you’re in your right mind,” Nam Kyung said out of nowhere. At which point, Juho’s thoughts scattered all over the place. “I can’t believe you decided to make changes to your manuscript in a situation like this. Yet, somehow, you managed to surprise me AGAIN with this bizarre story of yours,” the editor said, chuckling as if giving up on the young author.
“You make it sound like it’s all over when it hasn’t even started yet.”
“I’m just so dumbfounded!” Nam Kyung said, fessing up his current emotional state.
When he read Juho’s first manuscript for the first time, with the author’s permission, the editor had thought that there was nothing for him to worry about. Although most authors had been reluctant to be alongside Yun Woo, afraid of being compared to the young author, there had been a handful of authors who had stepped up to write alongside the young genius. Assuming that they would bring a presentable manuscript, the event would provide them with significant exposure. Nevertheless, Nam Kyung had no doubt that the event would turn out in a way favorable to Yun Woo. If anything, he had worried for the other competing authors. Then, the day of reckoning came, and Nam Kyung discovered the youthfulness hidden behind Yun Woo’s mature demeanor.
“You just abandoned something that you very clearly had the choice of protecting. Maybe it’s your youth. Aren’t you afraid of your career falling apart?”
“There’s always a way. It’ll be OK,” Juho replied.
‘Is this really a twenty-year-old kid?’ Nam Kyung thought, then said, “Well, have it your way now. I can’t do anything to help once you’re up on that stage.”
“I intend on doing just that,” Juho said, getting ready to leave the room.
At that moment, Nam Kyung reminded him one last time, “Remember that your readers are reading what you’re writing in real time! Also, don’t forget that you’re being watched by both reporters and other authors!”
Then, rising from his seat, Juho replied with a smile, “I’m sorry, Mr. Park, but I intend on forgetting all that is even there.”
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