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This chapter is updated by Wuxia.Blog
Translated by: ShawnSuh
Edited by: SootyOwl
After guzzling down his beer, Jenkins wiped his mouth and said, “Now, I’m aware that you’ve been avoiding public appearances as much as possible. I remember that all the interviewers kept trying to get you to be more specific, but you kept telling them the same thing, that you don’t want to beg your readers to buy your books.”
Juho also remembered saying that during a certain interview that had taken place while his apartment had been filled with pages of manuscript paper. Then, raising his chin, Jenkins added, “The second I heard that, I realized that your goal was something that could be purchased by another person.”
“It was just an analogy.”
“But what if I told you that it was actually possible? Greatness. I can give you just that.”
Juho tapped his finger on the desk as the director kept on, “I have experience, Mr. Woo. All of the actors and actresses with whom I worked rose to fame after appearing in my movies, and they each found their own unique identity. A romantic, a hero, a villain, a leader, an eloquent speaker. You might think that there’s more to reality, but let me tell you, there isn’t. Companies invest large sums of money just so they can maintain a positive image, and this is precisely what a country does. Think about the images that come to mind when you think of countries like Germany or the US. You get pretty similar pictures, don’t you think? The rich are full of themselves, while the poor remain ignorant. We dress in expensive clothes, but for what? Just so we don’t get looked down on. On the flipside, we dress like bums when traveling to places that aren’t as safe. Everybody has a certain image of how they want to be perceived by others, whether it’s looking appealing to others or wanting others to stay away.”
Jenkins seemed to be well-versed in the realities of modern society. Handling, creating, sculpting, and destroying images were all big parts of his job as a director.
“Now, let’s think about the subjects that we often like to put the word ‘great’ in front of. Nature, mothers. Personally, Mr. Woo, I don’t think you’re very far off. Yun Woo, the Great Storyteller.”
“I wanted to achieve my goal through my writing,” Juho said.
“And this is exactly what you’re getting through your writing. Why do you think I came all the way to Germany?”
“I’m certain that it’s not.”
“No. It appears that you don’t really know yourself, Mr. Woo. If you did, you’d be more conceited and far less cautious. You wouldn’t have thought twice about accepting my offer. Do you know what the single most important thing is when it comes to having a certain image, Mr. Woo? It’s the ground upon which you build that image. Companies donate exorbitant amounts just so they can be seen as ‘good.’ You, Mr. Woo, have more than what it takes to be great. You just happen to be hindered by preconceived notions about your age and your reputation as a genius.”
“Are you telling me that you, a movie director, will make me great?”
“Yes. Besides, I’m not you, so I can say all this without having to bear any of the burdens that come with it. On top of that, I can also make it sound objective.”
Juho quietly observed the director. He was clearly trying to direct the conversation in a way favorable to him. However, Jenkins wasn’t afraid to look directly into Juho’s eyes.
“Well, doesn’t sound like you’re trying to rip me off. That’s definitely something you can give me,” Juho said.
When books won widely recognized awards, the rate at which they sold increased. Books that bore famous names also carried that effect. It was also common for books to become bestsellers almost immediately after a mention in other media. Similarly, the titles and covers of books also played a major role in their sales. As for people, things like their level of education, the family in which they were born, and their occupation tended to determine their image on the surface. The most tangible aspects of a person became their most representative aspects, which gave others the power to determine what that person looked like.
“But it won’t come to readers as a surprise until after they actually open my book, don’t you think? Finding how different it actually is in comparison to what they imagined?” Juho asked.
“I don’t think so. We’re talking about making something that is already good to look at even better. A prodigy turned genius. It makes sense, doesn’t it?”
“But I’m not a product.”
“It was just an analogy,” the director said, licking his lips. “All that to say that, in the end, everyone will look up to you even more than they already do. The King of Pop, the God of Basketball, they all had to start somewhere until others started calling them as such. That’s why you haven’t talked about your goal on official occasions, right?”
Juho wasn’t going to let being valued as a person determine who he was. He didn’t think of himself as a commodity.
“Did it sound like I was looking for a title?”
“It definitely doesn’t sound as impressive when you put it that way,” Jenkins said, unfazed by Juho’s appearance. Then, as if knowing the true value of having a title, he added with a greedy look on his face, “Not just any title. The world will call you the one and only Great Storyteller.”
“Doesn’t quite sound like the greatness I’m looking for.”
“Well, what is it that you’re looking for?” the director asked, sticking his tongue out like a snake hiding in a swamp. He was quite crafty. Letting out a small sigh, Juho thought unhurriedly about how he defined greatness, which was a dream forfeited by some.
“I’d like to write for a long time,” Juho said, reminiscing to his past. Although he had risen to the top in no time, his life had fallen apart just as quickly. He was fully aware that he was far from being the Great Storyteller. However, after receiving a second chance, that had become an earnest desire.
“Is that what makes an author great? An author with a lasting career? That’s too vague. Not everyone dies at the same age,” the director said.
“Sales have nothing to do with greatness, whether things sell a lot or a little.”
“But if it doesn’t sell at all, then there won’t be anything left to discuss. A book only has meaning when it’s read. What I know for certain is that your book will become even more famous through my movie,” Jenkins said in a hurry, his shoulders looking somewhat tense. Meanwhile, Juho sat up.
“There are two reasons for why it’s pointless for us to discuss that. One, my books are already selling plentifully. Two, every book gets at least one reader the second it comes into existence: the author. Though, not the most objective one if I might add.”
“The minority gets neglected all the time. If nobody recognizes you, then what’s the point? Keeping something to yourself is no different. A name that never gets called loses its purpose.”
Juho didn’t want to be remembered as a genius. In fact, he wanted his life to end in a way different from his past. He wanted to be remembered as the Great Storyteller, and the moment he said it out loud, he realized his thoughts started untangling themselves. He had a past that nobody else new about. Yet, unlike Jenkins’ logic, that past was very much real. It was still leaving traces in Juho’s life, and its presence tended to grow whenever the young author wrote. While it was painful, it was a relief at the same time.
“The world might call me the Great Storyteller, but if I don’t see myself as such, then there’s no meaning,” Juho said. The expression on the director’s face started to harden slowly.
“It’s just as meaningless to keep that knowledge to yourself.”
“No, it’s not. They’re NOT the same. Would you take your own life just because you were told to?”
“… Of course not. I’d tell ’em to go to hell,” Jenkins said and dropped his head, his blue eyes also hiding from Juho’s sight. Then, repeating the process of clenching his hand into a fist and releasing it, he added, “… You might as well ask me to get you an absurd amount of money. There was an author like that, and things fell through in the end.”
Juho stared intently at his lowered head. Not only had he watched every single one of Jenkins’ movies, but he had also read every single interview the director had taken part in. On top of that, he had also seen him receiving an award at a ceremony. With that, Juho picked up the prop gun, which Jenkins had brought. The water inside it made it cold to the touch.
“A movie that’s better than my writing. Is that what you want, Mr. Jenkins?” Juho asked. ‘I’ll make a movie that surpasses your series.’ That had been the cause behind the director’s desire to make a movie based on ‘Language of God.’ Although genuine, it had proven to be self-centered in the end. Frankly, there was something that had been bothering Juho since their first encounter. It had been the director’s blue eyes, which had an uncanny resemblance to another pair of eyes the young author had seen recently. Those blue eyes had been filled with a competitive spirit. At that moment, the director smiled and told Juho, “I’ve written a number of scripts.”
“And writing a script is a completely different beast from writing a novel. When you compare them side by side, it almost feels like you’d have to hold your pen differently. A half-sibling, if you will. I mean, it’s just so visible how different they are when you look at their respective results. Moving images and text.”
The difference between the two were quite stark. So much so that there was no need to convince anyone.
“You don’t have to nag your kids to watch more movies. They already like them. There are less and less people reading books, and there’s no greater compliment than: ‘It reads like you’re watching a movie.'”
“What I’m saying is that I think that there’s nothing more entertaining than a movie,” Jenkins said, his eyes filled with genuine passion, and added, “I’m not coming from a place of looking down upon literature. In fact, I’m often inspired by literature. But, the first time I came across a movie, I immediately fell in love, and that is something a book has never been able to do.”
The director seemed to think his emotional experience was the realization of an objective truth. As talented as he was, all the time and work he had put into honing his skill had only reinforced his misunderstanding. It didn’t help that the world had been affirming his belief. Sniffling, the genius director said, “You’re already great, Mr. Woo.”
As Juho remained silent, he glanced at the young author and scratched his chin, saying, “Guess you’re not buying that either, huh?”
“Unfortunately. It wasn’t bad though.”
“Well, I guess I really don’t have a choice, then. It seems like I’ll just have to do my best to outlive you and buy the rights off someone else,” Jenkins said weakly, putting his interlocking fingers behind his head.
“As you said, Mr. Woo, that I couldn’t give you what you were looking for. Even if I were to give that to you, it wouldn’t be in the form you want it in. What can I do when you’re not looking for it in other people? The real tragedy here, though, is that YOU have what I’m looking for, which makes our relationship less than equal, as most relationships tend to be,” he said to the young author. Then, with another smile on his face, he added, “But that isn’t to say that you’re completely against making the movie, am I right?”
Jenkins lowered his head as if in anguish. There was truth to what he had said. If Juho had really been intending on turning it down, then he would have already done it. Besides, Jenkins was far too interesting of a person. When the young author watched his movies for the first time, he found them just as interesting and charming as their creator. Although things had been marked by bitterness the first time around, there was a sense of satisfaction the second time around. However, he still hadn’t been able to find what he was looking for. Currently, Juho had no lingering attachment to doing a film adaptation, and no amount of money nor a script written by the best screenwriters would be able to change his mind. The director had said that the young author had what he was looking for.
Then, taking the prop gun, Juho aimed it at the director’s head and pulled the trigger.
“Ah! Cold!” Jenkins let out, his entire body shaking as water dripped down his head.
“The thing is, Mr. Jenkins, I would have said this sooner if it weren’t for this gun.”
“I’m sorry?” the director let out, letting the water dripping from his head flow into his mouth.
“You see, I’m not completely against doing a film adaptation,” Juho said. Seeing the director’s face starting to light up, Juho smiled. “I can be defensive at times. I just froze up at the sight of that gun.”
“At the same time, it’s just not in my nature to be cruel, either. On top of that, nothing in this world lasts forever.”
Although the gun was as rigid as a real one, it was merely a water gun. At the sight of the stream of water, which was aimed away from him, Jenkins asked, “Wait, what are you trying to say? Can you be more clear?”
While they talked, Juho noticed a rather simple desire welling up in his heart, which had started taking roots after he had finished watching all of Jenkins’ movies. Wondering how far he’d be willing to go, Juho had observed the director, and as expected, their conversation had not only been fun, but also informative. In the end, Juho decided to grant the director’s wish.
“With all the spiel about greatness and whatnot, I want to see your movie, Mr. Jenkins,” Juho said, brushing his hair back with his hand. There was one more thing left to do.
“Now, why don’t we discuss the contract?” Juho said.
Then, raising his chest and throwing his arms up in the air, the director cheered with joy.
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