The Great Storyteller Chapter 386
Chapter 386 Repeating The Past Mistakes 2
Translated by: ShawnSuh
Edited by: SootyOwl
“Experiment? What kind?” Young Do asked. Remembering having explained every bit of it to the young editor, Juho blinked awkwardly. The author even remembered the look on his editor’s face.
“Did I not tell you?” Juho asked.
“Well, I remember you beating around the bush the entire time, saying things like, ‘I had to in order to survive,’ or ‘The crow told me to do it. I had no choice.’ I don’t know Mr. Woo, I didn’t know how to make sense of the things you were telling me,” Young Do said, and Juho nodded light-heartedly. Young Do had long grown tired of Juho’s absurd stories. Although Juho had worked fiercely back then, there was no getting around the anxiety as the time of his past death drew closer and closer. When anxious, people tended to make mistakes.
“You’re not gonna tell me, are you?” the editor asked, furrowing his brow. As Juho snickered at the look on his editor’s face, Young Do let out a small sigh and said, “I guess even Yun Woo isn’t immune to growing old.”
“I thought that was pretty obvious.”
“A genius boy turned genius middle-aged man.”
“People call me great, you know,” Juho said, furrowing his brow playfully.
“I thought you didn’t like that nickname, Mr, Woo…”
“Humans can be fickle like that, you know?”
Juho looked out the window. There was a crow resting on the branch of a big tree. Although high enough off the ground, the bird remained still on the branch, without flying off. Disgruntled by that, Juho rested his chin on his hand.
“I see that the tree is sprouting.”
“It’s a big tree.”
“Isn’t it already heavy enough?”
“You must be going through a lot if you’re that worried about a plant.”
“You know, Mr. Woo, if you keep me on the edge of my seat any longer after having written such an amazing intro, I just might die.”
“You won’t die that easily,” Juho said.
Chuckling, Young Do scratched his temple and asked, “Do you think I can take a look at the manuscript?”
After going into the room, Juho brought out the manuscript. With his eyes fixed on it, the editor said, “Don’t you just love the feel of a handwritten manuscript?”
At that, Juho chuckled quietly. Taking the manuscript from the author carefully, Young Do started to read through it. Juho’s clean, well-trimmed handwriting made for an easy reading experience. Although Young Do noticed the author’s penmanship deteriorate as the story progressed, he didn’t go out of his way to point that out.
“This story reminds of ‘The Great Gatsby.'”
A wealthy partier, Gatsby was a character who wrestled with his hypocritical inner self. As he had done as a young author, Juho had blended two distinctive writing styles into a single story, which enabled him to depict the inner thoughts of the protagonist more effectively. However, despite the tremendous potential for success, the story was yet to be completed. At the thought of the story collecting dust in the corner of a storage room, Young Do clenched the manuscript tightly in his hands.
“Of all places…” Young Do murmured as if sighing, but covered his mouth in a hurry.
Smiling, Juho said, “You know, I really like that you’re an honest man.”
“I’m sorry, Mr. Woo. I’ll be more careful.”
Shrugging, Juho asked, “Well, what did you think?”
After staring at the words on the manuscript quietly and briefly, the young editor cautiously studied Juho’s expression. In response, Juho nodded, as if giving him permission to speak his mind.
“I think you’re being a bit of a perfectionist here. I mean, it’s still the first draft.”
“I agree,” Juho said, admitting it willingly and catching the young editor off guard. Walking toward the refrigerator, he asked, “Drink?”
“It’s still light out, Mr. Woo. Besides, I have plans later. Wait, do you really have alcohol in your refrigerator?”
“I kept a bottle for a certain occasion.” When Young Do looked back to check whether Juho really had alcohol in his refrigerator, he saw Juho grabbing a bottle of water. Returning to his seat, the author added, “I want this story to be better than any other story that I’ve written. Those are my honest feelings.”
“Why?” Young Do asked.
“Think of it as the grand finale.”
At that, an alarmed look appeared on the young editor’s face.
“Wait, you’re not retiring, are you, Mr. Woo!?”
“Me? Retire? That’d be absurd. I’m at the peak of my career.”
“Well, there are authors who say that they want to retire when they’re at the height of their writing careers.”
“Well, I can tell you right now that’s not gonna be me. I’m not going anywhere, even if people say that I’m too old to write.”
“Then, what did you mean by grand finale?”
Instead of giving him an answer, Juho rubbed his chin and asked, “… Have you ever felt like you knew when you were gonna die?”
“Did you ever have a premonition that you’d die soon?”
“I don’t know… I mean, sure, I ask myself what would happen after I died, but… I’m still thirty.”
“Young and free.”
“So… On that note,” Young Do said nervously, and Juho waved his hand to reassure his editor.
“What I mean to say is that I always write like it’s going to be my last story.”
“Oh, right. That makes sense,” the young editor said, nodding and adding, “That’s very admirable of you, Mr. Woo. The better the book, the better for the publisher.”
There was no need to rave on any longer when the author himself was well aware of the problematic areas in the manuscript.
“I’m counting on you, Mr. Woo. We’ll push back that deadline for now, but I hope you can finish it in time this time,” Young Do said, and Juho shrugged nonchalantly. “Well, that’s that. Oh! Have you given it some thought?”
“… C’ mon, Mr. Woo. You said you’d consider it when we talked about it last time, remember? Judging?”
“Oh, that. I decided not to.”
At that, Young Do dropped his head. His face was filled with disappointment. At the same time, he seemed to have expected Juho to turn him down.
“I can’t say that I’m surprised,” Young Do said.
“I think you should just tell ’em to give up. I’m not the only person qualified to judge, you know,” Juho replied.
“But, you’re the only Yun Woo there is.”
“Like I said, there are plenty of people who qualify to be judges,” Juho said. Then, looking toward his editor, the author said, “Let me ask you something. Why are you so insistent on convincing me? I don’t intend on being a judge for any occasion.”
“… I don’t think you realize your talent, Mr. Woo.”
“My talent?” Juho said, chuckling. However, the young editor seemed serious.
Going through his bag in a hurry, Young Do took out a certain manuscript and said, “This is the manuscript that you liked last time we met. It went into print just yesterday. The president seemed happy with it too. If it hadn’t been for you, that one rookie author from last year would’ve never seen the light of day. The year before that, you liked a manuscript that I hadn’t even gotten to yet. Now, that author is one of the leading figures of the literary world.”
“That’s because he is a good writer himself,” Juho replied.
“One can’t become a star on their own. If people can’t appreciate their talent, then what’s the point? You have sharp eyes, Mr. Woo. Even if you had been an editor, you would’ve had a massively successful career,” Young Do said, handing a portion of a manuscript to Juho.
“On that note, do you think you could give this one a read?”
When Juho gave him a disgruntled look, Young Do avoided eye contact with the author, pushing the manuscript toward Juho. Although reading a rookie author’s manuscript was always a delight, a great learning experience, and a motivator, Juho simply couldn’t afford the time to read those as often as his editor asked him to. After some contemplation, Juho said, “On the off chance that there’s a problem, I’m taking no responsibility.”
“I know I’m asking a lot, but please take a look, Mr. Woo. It’s one of the submissions from last month. Apparently, the writer is a working doctor.”
As Juho scanned through the manuscript unhurriedly, Young Do joined in. Reading the first page was more than enough to distinguish a rookie from a seasoned writer.
Because Young Do was capable of distinguishing the subtle nuances in the author’s tone, the editor was able to catch on to the real meaning behind Juho’s response. ‘That’s a no go.’ Upon realizing that the author was having the same thought as him, Young Do had to suppress his excitement.
“Is there an issue, Mr. Woo? Others seem to think that it’s pretty good,” Young Do said, playing coy.
“I don’t recall saying that there’s an issue,” Juho replied.
“OK. Then, what do you like about it?”
“You’re very persistent, you know that?”
“I’ll keep it to myself.”
Rubbing his chin, Juho flipped through the pages of the manuscript unhurriedly.
“I have a feeling that this is the first piece the writer has ever completed.”
“I’m sorry?” Young Do asked, caught off guard by Juho’s answer.
Paying no attention to him, Juho said, “It’s not bad though.”
“Wouldn’t that make him a genius? Especially if this is the first draft?”
“I don’t know. What do you think?” Juho asked.
Since Young Do already had an answer in mind, he was able to give it readily, “I mean, sure, it reads like it was written by an amateur, but that’s nothing a bit of revision can’t fix. Personally, I liked the idea of the story.”
“I had no idea that it might be his first novel, but his sentences are incredible.”
“I agree,” Juho said, looking at the editor and urging him to speak more on the matter. If the editor had already made up his mind to work with the author, he wouldn’t have brought it to Juho in the first place.
Realizing that Juho had already caught on to his excitement, Young Do, looking like he’d been pricked in the heart, explained, “Though, it does kind of seem made up.”
It had been the only, yet fatal, flaw of the manuscript. As Young Do smacked his lips, Juho put the manuscript down.
“Well, everyone has their own standards, right? I think this will definitely sell. Personally, I’d like to read this writer’s other stories.”
“You know, Mr. Woo, it would make my life so much easier if you were more straightforward.”
“It’s your decision,” Juho said, drinking his tea, and Young Do stared intently at the author as he drank the bitter liquid.
“Do you think you can write a testimonial for someone, Mr. Woo?”
“You’re asking a lot of favors today.”
“I was hoping that you could think of it as the cost for the deadline extension.”
“I didn’t realize we were negotiating.”
“I’m just joking, Mr. Woo.”
Yun Woo’s testimonial was highly sought after. The phrase ‘Recommended by Yun Woo’ alone had the power to multiply a book’s sales severalfold.
“For whom, if you don’t mind me asking?”
Fortunately, Juho wasn’t exactly like Hyun Do, who was infamous for refusing to write testimonial for anybody. However, once Juho said no on a matter, nothing would change his mind, not even an acquaintance or one of the higher-ups of a publishing company.
“The author debuted last year. I don’t know if you remember, but he drew a lot of attention. He’s actually releasing a new book this year. Here’s the manuscript.”
Juho picked up yet another manuscript and scanned through it for a similar duration. After which, the answer became clear.
“… May I ask why?” Young Do asked while internally complaining about Juho’s convoluted nature.
Rolling his eyes, Juho looked toward the young editor and asked, “Who’s the editor in charge of the author?”
“He’s a coworker of mine who’s been around longer than me.”
“I have a favor to ask you. Make sure that editor and I don’t end up working together, even if it means you having to work for another publisher.”
“That won’t happen… Is it really that bad, Mr. Woo?”
“It’s not bad necessarily.”
‘Here we go again,’ Young Do thought to himself, fed up with the author beating around the bush. Without even bothering to ask, the young editor nodded. Although he had nothing to with the author of the manuscript, Young Do had to take on the burden in order to grant a coworker’s request. Naturally, the manuscript was not one of the young editor’s priorities.
“OK. Well, let’s get back to your manuscript, then, shall we? So, toward the end here…”
Young Do listened to the author’s thoughts quietly. By the author’s explanations, it sounded like the manuscript was flawless. In fact, the young editor believed firmly that any manuscript that went through Yun Woo’s hands came out significantly better. Then, noticing that something seemed off with the author, Young Do studied Juho’s expression. Juho didn’t necessarily appear to be in discomfort. In fact, he looked more at peace. After some brief contemplation, Young Do nodded and said, “Well, I’ll see you next time, Mr. Woo. If you need any help, please let me know.”
The house became silent after the young editor left. At which point, Juho rose from his seat and went into his room, where countless sheets of manuscript paper were scattered across the floor. Walking over them, Juho lay himself down on the bed. The windows were completely covered by the towering stacks of paper, making the room dark. After closing his eyes deliberately, Juho woke up from his nap about an hour later, yawning and murmuring, “Still no sign of him.”
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