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This chapter is updated by Wuxia.Blog
Translated by: ShawnSuh
Edited by: SootyOwl
“Impressive,” the fishing pond owner said amid the silence, and other authors responded by letting out heavy sighs. Having been intensely focused on the words that had been appearing on the screen, nobody had said a word since Yun Woo had started writing. The silence lingered even after the reporters had left. Thinking of the conversation he had had with the young author, the fishing pond owner said, “I knew I was worrying over nothing.”
Although he had secretly hoped that Yun Woo would be intimidated by the hidden talents of the nameless authors, that sadly didn’t come true. Instead, Yun Woo had written a story that was out of that world. On top of that, the young author had presented using an incomplete manuscript. When reminded that the ending had been written on the spot, the fishing pond owner couldn’t help but chuckle.
“That just wasn’t fair!” Silver Rings said, throwing both of her hands in the air, adding, “It was flawless! That ending made it so that he didn’t even have to try all that hard. Isn’t that kind of reckless? OK, I get that he didn’t just go up there trusting his own skills, but that ending was something else!” Listening to her talk was reminiscent of listening to heavy metal in some ways. It was exciting and stimulating.
“That was insane…” she said quietly, still sounding somewhat in the moment.
“I’m really afraid now that I know just how good he is,” she added, and the fishing pond owner agreed.
“Seems like we were a lot braver than we thought.”
“I’m telling you, this country just isn’t big enough for Yun Woo,” the student abroad said, looking as though completely enamored by Yun Woo’s writing, rubbing his face with both of his hands.
“I’m outta here. I don’t trust myself with the mindset I’m in at the moment. Who knows what kind of things I’d end up saying when I see him? I’m goin’ home,” he said, rising from his seat, rubbing his face with his hands, and leaving the room with Silver Rings. The fishing pond owner also held thoughts similar to the two. ‘ The failures, the rock bottom. He had to have gone through hell leading up his success,’ he thought, then said, “Is that normal?” as if striking up a conversation with the only person still left in the room, who remained silent.
“Do successful people know that much about failure? I was hurting so much for him toward the middle.”
‘What did it feel like to write so harshly about himself? Was all that carefully calculated?’ the fishing pond owner thought, but gave up shortly after. There was a limit to his imagination, and he had no intention of writing such a destructive, self-deprecating story. Not to mention, he valued his mental health.
“I was really moved by yours too, Sung Pil. I gotta admit. You’re a much better writer than I am,” the fishing pond owner said, studying his expression.
However, Sung Pil still gave no answer. His writing had a sincerity to it, which gave it a friendly, familiar feel. The volume of the applause and cheers he had received at the end of his presentation had been indicative of the quality of his story. However, his story hadn’t been able to silence the audience. Then, the fishing pond owner added, as if talking to himself, “I was actually at ease while reading his writing, but frankly, I’m shocked by the sheer impact of it. I couldn’t even leave the room in the middle.”
With that, the fishing pond owner turned back, realizing Yun Woo’s writing had made his retreat significantly less upsetting. Leaving Sung Pil behind, he went downstairs.
Left alone on the second floor, Sung Pil murmured quietly, “Yun Woo.”
“Yun Woo,” Nam Kyung called to Juho, with his head lowered. Juho sighed quietly. Since it wasn’t the first time his editor called to him, Juho didn’t bother to answer. Then, trembling with excitement, he sprung up from his seat and exclaimed, “Why didn’t you write something like that in the first place!?”
He had been quite worked up ever since Juho had come down from the stage.
“It’s not like I didn’t want to.”
“That was brilliant! I can’t believe you thought of sharing the moment you finished your story with your readers!” Nam Kyung said, pacing back and forth in the waiting room.
“I had a good feeling from the moment I saw the protagonist’s name on the screen. You do know how charming that name is to readers, right?” he asked. Then, instead of waiting for an answer, he added, “Why were you so obsessed with ruining yourself, though? What kind of stuff have you been looking at?”
His face was now burning red, unlike before the presentation when it had been deathly pale. At which, Juho shrugged nonchalantly.
“You have no idea how anxious I was… You saw the look on the readers’ faces, right? They were out of it! That ending was perfect! All that trouble went through really paid off!”
“Beautifully done! That’ll show the doubters! Let’s have another signing. What do you say?”
“Uhh… I don’t know about that.”
Nam Kyung laughed out loud, paying no attention to Juho’s response and looking as though he would keep on laughing even if somebody were to chuck a wet sheet of paper at him.
“How were the sentences? Juho asked. After some contemplation, the editor replied, “It did get a little rough toward the end, but they weren’t bad at all. If anything, those unrefined sentences were proof that they were written spontaneously.” Then, raising his finger, Nam Kyung pointed at the young author and said, “YOU were the best writer.”
At that moment, a knock came from the door. At which, Nam Kyung walked toward it light-footedly and opened it, revealing Sung Pil on the other side. Although the editor winced initially, he moved aside shortly after and let him through.
“You must be here to congratulate Juho. What about the others?”
“I see,” Nam Kyung said. Then, looking around, he added, “I have plenty of things I’d like to talk to Juho about, but I’ll let you guys be for now. I need to go talk to the director, anyway.”
As the sound of door closing reverberated through the waiting room, Juho gestured for Sung Pil to sit.
“Grab a seat.”
Juho had been expecting him. However, Sung Pil stood in place like a statue.
“When did you come up with that story?” Sung Pil asked. He seemed curious about how Yun Woo’s story came to be.
“Before you debuted,” Juho replied. The young author’s first encounter with Gray Hat had been before Sung Pil’s debut.
“Me too,” Sung Pil said, then added, “I thought of my story before you debuted too.”
Juho thought of the manuscript he had presented. Being ostracized, feeling isolated, and in the end, being rejected. It was the story he had lived through before Yun Woo had debuted as an author.
“Is this another competition? Of who keeps their story in their minds the longest?” Juho asked. He had been imagining Yun Woo’s downfall since long ago. “Then, you won,” Juho added.
No matter how long he had been thinking about his own downfall, he couldn’t tell anyone about it, and that included Sung Pil, which left him with no chance to beat Sung Pil in their competition. Juho looked at Sung Pil’s reflection in the mirror. It seemed somewhat upset. Suddenly…
“I lost,” Sung Pil declared his defeat.
“What makes you think that?” Juho asked. More accurately, he was asking the standards by which he had reached that conclusion.
“What kind of thoughts were you having while writing?” Sung Pil asked instead of giving an answer. In order to answer that question, Juho revisited his experience on the stage. Shortly after, he replied, “My writing.”
“Right. I thought so. I could tell. I saw nothing but writing in your eyes,” Sung Pil said, his reflection on the mirror exposing his emotional state. There was an apparent look of defeat about him.
“Well, what about you? What kind of thoughts were you having?” Juho asked.
“I wanted to win.”
Sung Pil had wanted to win. For once, he had wanted to pass his genius friend who had far surpassed him long ago.
“When I first heard about this event, I also heard there was a chance that Yun Woo might also participate. At which point, I sincerely hoped that you would,” Sung Pil said. Back then, he had still been lost in the joy of having debuted as a professional author.
“I had thought I stood a chance. I wanted to win, and when I heard the applause from the audience after my presentation, I felt certain that I might be able to do just that,” he added brusquely, with no trace of embarrassment.
“I’m sure the other authors were coming from a similar place. They all wanted to outdo you somehow. You were essentially outnumbered. And then, you bring out that manuscript of yours. How do you think that looked to me and the other authors?”
Yun Woo’s manuscript had been cruel. It had received neither applause or cheers while he’d been writing it. The hall had been completely silent, leaving only the racing hearts of the authors.
“You didn’t look up to us once.”
“I was determined to beat you onstage. That was the only thing on my mind the entire time I was preparing my manuscript. But something tells me that you weren’t as desperate as I was,” Sung Pil said.
“You paid no attention to any of the authors in the hall, including me.”
Juho didn’t deny Sung Pil’s observation. If anything, he had made an effort to pay no attention to anybody in the hall.
“Does this mean I’m not getting an award?” Sung Pil asked.
“I don’t think either of us is,” Juho said, trying to suppress his chuckle.
There were no award ceremonies in the event. As Juho took a deep breath, it dawned on him that the event had finally come to an end. Checking the time, Juho realized how late it was. Everyone had to have left at that point.
“Takes me back to my high school days,” Sung Pil said, holding on to the door.
“When I was reading your book in front of you, not knowing that you were Yun Woo.”
“It turned out that I ran into Yun Woo at the bookstore by coincidence.”
Back then, Sung Pil had been completely unsuspecting of Juho’s identity. But now, they were both authors who participated in events together. Sung Pil was moving forward. He wasn’t idle.
With that, the two made their way out of the waiting room.
“So, they were friends, huh?” the reporter murmured. Having overheard the two authors’ conversation, he replayed the words he had heard up to that point in his head. High school and defeat. They had sounded like they were quite well acquainted with each other.
Yun Woo’s decision to participate in the event had been a mystery to him, but had become clear once he had read the young author’s manuscript: Yun Woo had that manuscript all along. Having read it, the reporter couldn’t avoid the truth. Yun Woo had participated solely for the sake of his writing.
However, with the new knowledge of the young author’s friendship with Sung Pil, there was a possibility for another scenario. From the sound of it, it seemed like they had made a bet of sorts. In which case, it would be plausible to leverage Yun Woo’s attitude toward his fellow authors at the event. Taking his phone out, the reporter started writing away, ‘Yun Woo playing with the hearts of his desperate colleagues.’ However, it wasn’t long before his hands came to an abrupt halt.
Hindered by the lingering effect of his writing, the image of the young author in the midst of writing flashed in the reporter’s mind. Yun Woo’s desperation was a mystery to the reporter. Successful at an early age, the young author had managed to win monikers such as the first, and the youngest, not to mention his wealth and fame. It almost seemed as if he were running from or chasing after something. Looking at the young author onstage when he had just started writing, his former coworker had said, “How can anybody doubt him after seeing all this?”
For a little while, the young author had repeated the process of writing and deleting a series of sentences. Meanwhile, the audience had watched the creative process of the stories and dialogues in the author’s mind coming to be in real time. From time to time, the author would sit still, close his eyes and pause for a brief moment. None of his movements seemed forced, which indicated that he wasn’t worried about his skill. He didn’t bother convincing the skeptics. Instead, he focused on writing, and in the end, the reporter found himself hesitating.
The excitement he had felt when watching the presentation of the other authors was no longer there. It didn’t make sense that Yun Woo was able to pull off a stunt like that with such ease. On top of that, it didn’t make sense that an author like that even had friends.
“Prick. This is all your fault.”
With that, the reporter deleted everything he had written up to that point and started writing all over again as he made his way out of the empty hallway.
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