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This chapter is updated by Wuxia.Blog
Translated by: ShawnSuh
Edited by: SootyOwl
“How is it that not a single author turned up at the afterparty!?” Nam Kyung asked dumbfoundedly as they reunited at his office a few days after the event.
Letting out a small yawn, Juho said to him, “That happens. It was only five people. I don’t think that’s a big enough number to ruin a party.”
“It got kind of awkward, but I suppose you’re right.”
Although the editor still seemed to be quite busy, he didn’t seem nearly as busy as he had been before the event. Then, he led the young author to the same ol’ conference room.
“Hey! It’s Yun Woo!” Silver Rings said, stating the obvious. Thankfully, all five authors were in the conference room that time, reuniting for the first time since the event. For some reason, there were a handful who seemed to find the young author’s presence unwelcoming.
“How’ve you been?”
“Not too great,” the student abroad said, curling his lip. However, he didn’t seem like he was being sarcastic.
“I heard nobody went to the after party?”
“It just kind of happened.”
“Did you have a prior engagement?”
“Yeah, somethin’ like that.”
Everyone seemed to be avoiding Juho’s questions, and Juho didn’t try to pry the answers out of them, either. Instead, he asked the student abroad, “I thought you guys would come visit me in the waiting room.”
“I could’ve, but I just didn’t have anything to say in particular.”
“How so?” Juho asked.
“Because you have no regard for us whatsoever,” the student abroad replied, unfolding his arms. At which, Sung Pil moved his eyebrows at Juho as if saying, ‘What did I tell you?’
“People could tell us how good your books are and how curious they are about you all day long, but at the end of the day, their reading experience doesn’t come even remotely close to what we feel after reading your writing.”
“You don’t know that. What did you feel?”
“See? You don’t understand. You never will,” the student abroad said, closing his lips. He was fully aware that Yun Woo wouldn’t be moved by his writing, let alone get excited.
“As for me, I’m just gonna stick to my fishing pond,” the fishing pond owner said as if he’d never write again, chuckling. At that moment, a familiar voice came out of nowhere, saying, “Ah, good! Everyone’s here.”
It was the director of the editing department, who had come into the conference room with a cheerful look about her. The same group of people who had gathered before the event had come together once more.
“The exhibition was a massive success, and it’s all thanks to each and every one of you in this room. You’ve all done a wonderful job.”
At her compliment, some waved their hand in denial, while others nodded in agreement. Meanwhile, Juho listened to her intently and waited for what she was about to say.
“Did you see the article?”
“Yes, I have.”
“You guys are well liked by the public. I’m hearing a lot of good things.”
Juho had already been aware of that. Although the word had started spreading mostly due to its association with the name Yun Woo, the event had ended on a high note.
“It helped that our expectations were so low,” the student abroad said with a cold smile on his face. Then, his gaze fixed on Juho like an arrow and said, “The David-against-Goliath fight has a tradition for being popular.”
“David usually wins though,” Silver Rings interjected quietly. At which, the expression on the student abroad’s face started growing noticeably darker.
“But it was Yun Woo we were up against. Not some giant,” the fishing pond owner said, waving his hand in denial. However, the words that came out of the director’s mouth put an abrupt stop to that movement.
“Where did you hear that David won?”
At which point, everyone fixed their eyes on her.
“Wait, what’s that supposed to mean?”
“My understanding was that everyone here was hoping to get their books published,” the director said.
“And we still are.”
“Yes, we are,” Sung Pil said in his heavy voice.
“Would anybody like to take a guess as to why I brought you all here?” she asked, still wearing the same cheerful smile on her face. At that, Juho started to catch on to her slowly.
“Is somebody getting their book published?”
“It’s obviously Yun Woo,” Sung Pil said, and other authors agreed. However, the director tilted her head and replied, “If that were true, then I wouldn’t have dragged on like this, would I?”
“Then, what is it? Are you saying that there’s somebody here who did a better job than Yun Woo?”
As the ambition started creeping into the hearts of the authors, the director said, “We decided to put everyone’s manuscripts into one single compilation.”
‘Of course,’ Juho thought, looking at his editor, who seemed to already be aware of the news. The positive reviews and responses of readers. Remarkable performances of the authors. There were readers out there who wanted to see their manuscripts get made into books, which meant that their manuscripts had met the standards that needed to be met before they got made into books. Turning a well-written piece into a book was the primary responsibility of a publishing company. In which case, when a total of five incredibly well-written manuscripts had been presented during the event, the publisher had all the more reason to publish them. Meanwhile, Juho looked at the fishing pond owner, who seemed to be having a hard time believing the director’s words. At which point, the young author said to him, “Seems like you gotta keep writing.”
“… It appears so.”
Noticing that the guilt that had once resided in his eyes had completely vanished, Juho made a mental note of that change in the fishing pond owner.
“So, what’s the order gonna be?” the student abroad took the initiative to ask. At which, the director answered in a calm tone of voice, “The same as the order you presented.”
“There are some changes that I wanted to make to my manuscript. There will be a revision process, right?” the fishing pond owner asked in a rush, looking somewhat excited.
“Of course! It doesn’t have to look exactly like it did during the presentation.”
Then, in the middle of the authors getting stoked about getting their stories published, she said to Sung Pil, “Also, I’ve been discussing with my department about arranging an interview with you. Is that OK?”
“Yes. It’s an interview that’s typically held with one of the winners of the Rookie of the Year Award. I thought you’d be the perfect fit for that since you’re the winner of this year’s award.”
Although a rookie, Sung Pil definitely had potentials as an author, and now, he was about to publish his second story. However, his growth was only at the beginning since he would become a popular author in the future. If it weren’t for Yun Woo, Sung Pil would’ve received significantly more attention. As Sung Pil nodded in agreement in response to the director, Ms. Song, who was in charge of the interview, said to him, “We’ll discuss it in more detail soon.” Then, the director looked at Silver Rings and added, “As for you, miss, it’d be great if you could tell us the names of the songs you were playing in the background during your presentation.”
“Why? Are you into heavy metal too?”
“It’s not for me, actually. It’s for your editor-in-charge, who you’ll get to meet soon. We’ll probably bring it up in the compilation along with your picture.”
At that, she threw her fists up into the air, delighted. She loved music just as much as writing.
“A happy ending,” Nam Kyung said, and Juho chuckled quietly.
Winner of Zelkova’s Rookie of the Year Award. Age: Twenty. First Unanimous Nomination Since Yun Woo. Remarkable Performance in the Presentation Segment in the Literary History Exhibition. A Rookie with a Prospect. These were some of the titles of the articles that turned up when one would search the name Sung Pil.
“We’ll take a quick break.”
“Sure,” Sung Pil said, nodding at the publisher’s staff member. They were in the stack room of the company, which was filled with books published by them. The view was quite different from the picture included in the transcription of Yun Woo’s interview in the magazine. Also, being the interviewee was a completely new experience.
The rookie author took a sip of water. He had been answering questions about how he came to start writing and the submission he had made to the company during the contest. So far, the questions mostly revolved around his debut title, ‘Gingko Tree,’ which Sung Pil greatly appreciated and enjoyed as he got to explain the setting and the characters in depth. Although there weren’t that many questions, each and every one of them called for lengthier, more detailed answers. Then, after checking the camera, the interview resumed.
“You’re currently majoring in creative writing at a university, right? Did that contribute to your recent piece in any shape or form?”
“It’s hard to say. I was in still in high school when I first wrote ‘Gingko Tree.’ My guess is that it’ll affect my future stories more than the current one,” Sung Pil said. Nodding, Ms. Song moved on to the next question.
“You’re the same age as Yun Woo, correct?”
At the mention of his friend, Sung Pil nodded and said, “Yes.”
“And he’s also one of our most representative authors. Recently, you two participated in our exhibition event together. What do you think of him?”
It was a question Sung Pil had been anticipating. He thought of the day of the fishing pond owner’s presentation. While he had been looking around the hall with his friend, they had run into some reporters. As soon as Yun Woo had left, they had started bombarding Sung Pil with questions, all of which had been about Yun Woo. It had been at that moment that Sung Pil realized why the event had been drawing so much attention. Yun Woo. At the same time, he also realized that the name itself tended to draw attention, both desirable and undesirable alike. As a rookie author, Sung Pil was in desperate need of exposure.
“Yun Woo is an author of massive presence. When I was still dreaming of becoming an author, he had already become one. All that to say, he was a competitor who was not to be looked down upon.”
“Did you two get to spend some time talking afterward?”
“Yes, plenty, in fact.”
“Is there a part of you that wants to be as popular as him?”
“Yes, there is.”
In fact, that ambition was a big part of him. Sung Pil wanted his writing to be read by as many people as possible. As Ms. Song waited patiently for the rookie author’s response, he replied, “That’s it.”
Sung Pil wanted to determine the path to success himself. He had no intention of bragging about his friendship with Yun Woo. He was very well aware that he still had a lot of catching up to do before he reached his friend’s level, which was a humble realization that came to him for the first time since becoming friends with the young author. Sung Pil’s goal had been to become a professional author and win the Rookie of the Year Award in the end. He had genuinely believed that winning the award would put him on equal footing with Yun Woo, allowing him to compete with his friend as rivals. Although the truth couldn’t be further away, Sung Pil didn’t necessarily find it upsetting. Meanwhile, as Ms. Song moved on to the next question, the rookie author saw Nam Kyung standing behind her, staring at him intently.
“Since Yun Woo, you’re the first nominee by unanimous decision. What did that feel like?”
“I was stoked. At the same time, I was quite humbled after I read the evaluations. I was reminded that I still had a lot of growing to do.”
“Since your presentation, your name has become one of the most searched names on the internet. The public seems to view your potential in a positive light. What did that feel like?”
“Honestly, the manuscript I had prepared for the presentation was based on my personal experience. I have firsthand experience being ostracized at school and I know what it’s like to be left out and isolated, as well as the desperation of wanting to get out of it. When I turned those emotions into writing onstage, I saw people identifying with what I was writing, which was quite encouraging.”
“There are quite a few reviews out there saying that they were encouraged by your writing.”
Ms. Song chuckled quietly at the rookie author’s response. Then, just as Sung Pil thought that he had gotten away from questions about Yun Woo, another question about his author friend came up. At which point, Ms. Song asked deliberately, as if to confirm the response.
“Was it at the event that you saw Mr. Woo for the first time?”
“… As an author, yes.”
Noticing Ms. Song tilting her head at his ambiguous answer, he explained quickly, “Yun Woo was remarkable on that stage. So much so that I can’t wait to stand by his side. This event was invaluable to me. It taught me so much about myself.”
The event had been a humbling experience for Sung Pil. It had revealed precisely the areas in which he fell short. On top of that, he had also come to realize that he had more writing to do before he could improve on those areas. Then, as the interview brought up last the question, asking about his future plan, Sung Pil paused briefly and replied, “I want to be an author who can handle any burden that gets put on me.”
He wanted to be in a position where he wouldn’t be taking advantage of his friend’s fame even after revealing their friendship to the public. With that, the interview came to an end, and the group of people who had been gathering in a tight cluster scattered throughout the room. Meanwhile, Nam Kyung stepped out of the room, bring his phone up to his ear.
“I think the interview will come out well!” Ms. Song said, walking toward Sung Pil to talk to him. While they were talking, Nam Kyung came toward them after the phone call, looking unsettled.
“What’s the matter?” Ms. Song asked. Meanwhile, Nam Kyung looked intently at the rookie author.
“Did you and Mr. Woo know each other in high school?” the editor asked, scratching his forehead. At that, the staff members who had been organizing the equipment also looked in their direction. Ms. Song, in particular, had the most peculiar look on her face.
‘How did he know?’ Sung Pil thought to himself. However, realizing that the answer wasn’t far away from him, he looked at the phone in the editor’s hand. At which point, Nam Kyung said, “An article’s turned up.”
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