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This chapter is updated by Wuxia.Blog
Translated by: ShawnSuh
Edited by: SootyOwl
“That’s one intimidating crowd,” a staff member whispered to Juho while he was standing by. All of the stage crew had their eyes fixed on the audience, who was waiting anxiously for the young author’s appearance. It was that very audience that the young author had to face.
“If you’re not entirely confident that you can pull it off, then don’t change anything,” Nam Kyung had said. Juho was also afraid of the cheers and applause turning into an uncomfortable silence. However, his desire to write far outweighed his fear. Then, as he was thinking about the new manuscript, another thought occurred to him, ‘There’s something even better, something closer to what you’re looking for. Go for it. Forget who’s watching. Being onstage changes nothing. You gotta focus on writing while writing. Forget about winning or losing, or that you’re being exposed to the public. Focus on writing.’ At that moment, somebody tapped Juho on the back. It was Nam Kyung. The staff members were also looking at the young author, signaling him to go up.
“Well, here goes nothin’,” Juho said.
“Break a leg,” his editor replied.
With that, Juho went up to the stage. The bright spotlight shone on him, blinding him for a brief moment. Then, upon scrunching up his eyes, the faces in the audience came into view, each and every one of them wearing a look of anticipation.
“Hello. Yun Woo. It’s a pleasure to be here.”
At that, the audience exploded into massive applause, significantly louder than the one Sung Pil had received. Thinking about the authors who had presented before him, Juho started realizing why some of them had been so nervous, while the others had interacted with the crowd or had talked about themselves. As he waited patiently, the applause eventually died down.
“The story I’m about to show you today has no correlation with any of my books that have been published up to this point.”
There were apparent smiles on the faces within the audience. They were delighted by the presence of the young author. However, he didn’t hesitate to rain on their parade.
“But I regret to inform you that it hasn’t been completed.”
The audience was caught off guard by the young author’s unexpected confession. The atmosphere took a sudden turn. While still somewhat anticipating what the author had in store, questions and doubts started rising among the crowd.
“I had to go through another revision process at the last minute, as in yesterday. Which is why I couldn’t finish in time. I admit, I got kind of ambitious.”
A mixed reaction came from the audience. While some cheered by habit, others groaned.
“But there’s nothing wrong with that, right? The whole point of this segment is to show the writing process after all.”
The audience responded in lukewarm manner, slowly catching on to what Yun Woo was telling them. The young author was about to write a whole new story onstage, right before their eyes. It was all very spontaneous. Then, moving the microphone to his other hand, Yun Woo added, “All you have to do is enjoy the process. I can’t promise you what kind of story you’ll end up seeing on that screen, but I will do my absolute best.”
Then, just as he was heading toward the desk, he turned around and added one more thing, “Should you feel the story isn’t measuring up to your expectation, then simply tell yourselves that Yun Woo’s let you down this time. At which point, I’ll do my best to make necessary improvements.”
With that, he handed the microphone back to a staff member, who took it with a cheerful smile on their face. Simultaneously, there were also those who wanted to see Yun Woo’s downfall. Taking a deep breath, Juho looked into the distance, which was clearly visible from where he was standing.
“I have a good feeling about this,” he said to himself, walking toward the desk unhurriedly. First, he read through the manuscript one last time. Meanwhile, the screen showed an empty page, but the young author didn’t mind it one bit. The protagonist within the story had originally been based on Gray Hat, who Juho met near Zelkova once. Taking hold of his last opportunity, the protagonist was giving his writing career one more try. However, the protagonist within the story was just the opposite of its real-life counterpart. Yun Woo had already been an author, but soon, he lost that title. Then, placing his hands on the keyboard, Juho typed out the name of the protagonist.
“Yun Woo?” the audience responded immediately and started whispering among themselves. Unhindered, the author onstage started typing away. The protagonist was a successful author, whose life had been defined by nothing but success. Having written a total of three novels for the duration of his career, which were ‘Mango,’ his debut title, ‘Brush,’ and lastly, ‘Gray,’ the public recognized his talent, and his books started to sell at an incredible rate. The protagonist developed a reputation for writing some of the greatest novels in history.
While Juho was writing a scene that portrayed the protagonist’s success, the hall was completely silent. Yun Woo’s life seemed to be leading quite a cheerful life. The sentences flowed seamlessly. Following the stream of thought, which Juho had already mapped out prior to the presentation, was hardly a challenge. The chuckles from the audience from time to time indicated to Juho that they were enjoying what they were seeing on the screen. At that moment, a voice came from the distance, disrupting the writing process, “Can you slow down?”
When Juho stopped typing and looked up, there was a disturbance in the audience. The shout seemed to have come from one of the audience members, which had not happened in the previous presentations. Unlike the authors who had presented up to that point, the young author onstage was a familiar face to every single member of the audience. Juho shook his hands off in the air for no apparent reason. Then, recognizing the lack of a microphone, he applied pressure to his abdomen and said loudly, “Am I moving too fast?”
“Yeah,” a soft voice in the audience replied.
“I apologize. I’ve never consciously tried to write slower. I can try, but I can’t make any promises. Hope that’s OK.”
That time, a louder response came from the audience. They, too, were aware of the purpose of the event. Then, looking down, Juho took a deep breath and resumed writing. The practice beforehand made the process a lot easier. The flow of the story sped up even more, and soon, the moment came when Yun Woo’s writing career finally came to its end. Thinking of those who desperately wanted to witness his downfall, Juho thought, ‘Here’s what you’re looking for.’
“Isn’t that kind of extreme?”
A disturbance arose from the audience in the once-peaceful exhibition hall. The story was quickly losing its shape. There was no consideration toward the audience, or to winning or losing for that matter. The young author was running the protagonist down like no other. Yun Woo’s life took an unexpected turn, putting an end to his happy, cheerful life. Letting success get to his head, Yun Woo quickly becomes arrogant. Having no consideration for those around him, Yun Woo looked down on them and became lazy and content, no longer trying to improve, clueless as to what he had become.
Before long, people started associating the once-successful author with monikers such as bully, dreadful, privileged, or at times, garbage. And soon, people didn’t even bother giving the author those names. He was no longer taken seriously, nor did anybody bother with him or consider him in any way. Seeing his old self on the page suffering a due punishment, Juho felt a strange sense of satisfaction.
As Juho moved to the next line on the page, the scene also changed with it. Unlike its creator, Yun Woo’s three books remained in print, just as popular as they had been at first. It was as though there was no end to them, as if they had no concept of death. The fans praised, applauded, and welcomed those books. The three books were the most impeccable beings within the novel. At which point, strong jealousy stirred up within the foolish creator. Like a mushy, overly-ripe fruit, Yun Woo fell to the ground, helpless.
“He stopped,” a voice in the audience said. As the story that had been progressing unhindered came to an abrupt halt, some of the members of the audience covered their mouths. Yun Woo and his great novels had been completely separated. Yun Woo wasn’t a great storyteller. Yet, he had managed to write some of the greatest novels in history. While their creator quickly spiraled down to poverty, his creations got nominated for literary awards of tradition and prestige, leaving the fans on their toes.
When Juho looked up, there was no longer anticipation on the faces within the audience. Instead, there was a shared excitement among them. A hat came into Juho’s view. Although it wasn’t gray, his encounter with gray hat rushed past before his eyes. ‘Do you think I have a chance of winning?’ Gray Hat had asked Juho, forcing him into the position of having to answer. Then, taking the sentences that came to him at that moment, Juho listed them one by one. ‘One day.’ ‘I know you have it in you.’ ‘You just have to work for it.’ ‘You’re not at your limit yet.’ ‘You can push further.’ ‘You can become even better.’ ‘That day is coming, and I know it.’
Moving his hands, Juho typed them out as they were. The audience tilted their heads at the sentences that looked seemingly out of place. Soon, a commotion broke out in the exhibition hall. As Juho focused his thoughts on Gray Hat, the sound of commotion faded away. However, a sense of disappointment lingered in Juho’s mind. As if tired of hearing people trying to encourage him, Gray Hat walked away, leaving the sentences purposeless and useless. Because Yun Woo didn’t know who Gray Hat was, he wouldn’t be able to understand his thoughts. Gray Hat wasn’t looking for compliments or people to validate his plans for his future. Juho distinctly remembered the man having said that his submission to the contest had been his last hurrah. He had already made up his mind and had accepted that it was his last. With that, Juho erased every single sentence that he had typed out.
“You’ll probably never get that award.”
Although Gray Hat had already made up his mind, there was a part of him that made him second guess his decision.
“And that’s fine.”
There was no need to wallow in guilt. Nothing had gone to waste. Everything happened for a reason. Upon realizing that those were the words that he should have offered to Gray Hat, Juho felt a sense of regret traveling up from the tips of his finger. At that moment, he started typing slightly faster. He felt that the sentences had become blunter. However, he didn’t stop. The vision of a story that he had been longing for was right before his eyes, enabling the young author to think of a way to wrap up the story in the way he wanted. Juho felt better almost instantly.
“Gettin’ hungry,” he murmured, leaning back on the backrest of his chair. As he was checking the finished manuscript, a jingle sounded off, marking the end of the presentation. At that, Juho rose unhurriedly from his seat, walked toward the center of the stage and faced the silent audience. Then, when he reached his hand over to the staff member, who stared at the author in a daze, they handed the young author a microphone.
“Thank you for your time.”
With that, Juho stepped down from the stage, all the while the audience kept their eyes fixed on the screen.
“He’s done it,” Myung Sil said, trying to get a hand off her hand, which shook uncontrollably from the excitement. Witnessing Yun Woo’s writing process had gone beyond her imagination. She hadn’t been able to look away from the screen for a single moment. Upon getting up onstage, Yun Woo had decided to drop a bomb on his unsuspecting readers. A manuscript that had been revised at the last minute. Incomplete. The reporter was astonished by the young author’s boldness and the spontaneous nature of his declaration to write a whole new story, onstage and in front of his readers. It was an incredibly risky move on the author’s end. It was a dangerous gamble that very well could have exposed his actual skill. At least, those had been Myung Sil’s thoughts until the halfway point of the presentation. In the end, she was left puzzled.
“How is it that he knew so much about failing?”
She couldn’t make sense of why such a successful author like Yun Woo had revealed such raw emotions. It simply didn’t make sense that he knew so much about failure.
“And that ending.”
The writing was clean and well trimmed. However, once he had stopped typing, the story had evolved into something completely different. The sentences were rugged and disorganized. Yet, she couldn’t help but keep on reading. There were raw, unadulterated emotions in his sentences, provoking a chain reaction in the audience. She had never witnessed such rawness from the author, which reminded her that he really was writing spontaneously.
Meanwhile, Juho had been quite nervous. At the same time, he hadn’t been able to wait to find out what kind of story would come out. He had been aware of the risk involved. There had been that he’d fail, leaving him in ruin like Yun Woo within the story. For the first time, Juho had felt threatened that his career might be at stake. However, he had managed to pull it off in the end.
“Damn it,” somebody next to her said. Even without looking, it was obvious to Myung Sil who it was. It was her former coworker who had desperately hoped that Yun Woo would slip and make a fool of himself in the presence of his readers. Yun Woo’s failure would carry significant shock value. Knowing that, he had frantically pressed the shutter release button on his camera when Yun Woo had come up to the stage, saying, “I wonder how nervous he is right now.”
Myung Sil remembered him pointing at the president and the officers of Zelkova, who had participated in order to witness the successful finale of the massive event. The audience had also been incomparably more excited.
“Give me just one, decent shot,” the reporter had said, hoping to capture the author in the midst of being publicly humiliated. Ironically, Yun Woo had provided a number of riveting shots for the reporters who were putting articles and photos up online in real time. Every member of the audience was busy sharing the moment among themselves. It was similar to an audience pouring out of a movie theater after a movie. Of course, Myung Sil, who couldn’t help but burst into laughter at her coworker’s misfortune, was one of them.
After Yun Woo had stepped down from the stage after thanking the audience, the audience started getting louder, reminding Myung Sil that there hadn’t been a single author who made their audience engage in discussions after the presentation. Every author had received cheers and applause from the audience, which was an expression of admiration toward the authors who had successfully written well-written pieces. It was a sign of joy toward the unique processes of writing. However, in Yun Woo’s case, only his writing remained onstage, absorbing the emotions of its readers on its creator’s behalf. Although Yun Woo had been the last author to present, his presentation had been far from stale or predictable. There hadn’t been a boring moment throughout his presentation.
“Oh, Yun Woo,” Myung Sil let out, closing her eyes and enjoying the aftereffect.
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