The Great Storyteller Chapter 237
Translated by: ShawnSuh
Edited by: SootyOwl
“Is this going to be written from a first-person point of view?”
“Yes. It’d be better that way.”
Nam Kyung was deeply impressed. The young author was on to something. As long as it was properly executed, the novel would be superb. Brilliant. As long as the author managed to pull the pieces of the story in his head out to reality, the results would be quite promising. It would be a fine story, and the author would be able to remain unhindered by the Nebula Award. As the editor barely managed to calm himself, he focused on listening to the author some more.
“Is this going to be all right?” Juho asked as if seeking Nam Kyung’s affirmation, and the editor nodded heavily.
“I think it’ll be more than all right. The closed-off image is brilliant, and the claustrophobic nature will only add to the suspense,” he said, tactfully catching on to what the young author was emphasizing. It simply made sense when considering the bug’s final destination. Then, imagining the boy swallowing his insect friend, Juho said, “There’s nothing more cramped than a person’s heart.”
The boy was all alone, oppressed by the parents who had given birth to him. It was a commonly seen phenomena, and it was in that very environment that the insect had hidden.
“I think the fact that the bug doesn’t resist really adds to the story somehow. On top of that, it’s easy to make the connection that it could be a person, which also makes it creepy.”
The insect chooses the safer life by willingly going into the boy’s body. Unfortunately, it quickly turns out to be a bad decision. Its new home grows increasingly insane. Then, looking at the egg salad in his sandwich, Juho said, “Frankly, I think the bug was already dead.”
“Dead? Because it got eaten?”
“No, even before that. After being neglected, without proper care.”
After getting dragged out of the mountains, the insect found itself in a new prison: the fishbowl. The boy had never seen an insect like that, not to mention he was raising it without his parents knowledge. There was no way that the boy would be able to find food for his little friend. As the bug grew weaker, the pressure would grow in the boy’s mind, leaving only the extreme choice in the end.
“Sounds like the bug and the boy have a lot in common,” Nam Kyung said, and Juho nodded. That was precisely the reason why the boy had loved the insect.
“What about the characters in the outer story?” the editor asked with an apparent look of anticipation, urging the young author to tell him more. Juho imagined the two people conversing on the train. Though headed for the same destination, the significance of arriving there was different for the two.
“She’s from the same town as the guy, and she’s the one who came across the fishbowl.”
“You mean, the one where the boy kept his bug?”
“Yes. He’s bound to throw the fishbowl out no matter what. Then, he goes missing. Word of it spreads through the town, and the story becomes known to every single person in town. Thought it isn’t clear what happens to him afterward.”
Then, after brief contemplation, Nam Kyung asked, “Is this after he gets trapped in his house?”
The fishbowl was the connecting piece between the outer and the inner story. It was also the first house the boy had used to trap the insect, as well as the one he abandoned. Instead of being filled with water, the fishbowl was filled with dirt and tree branches.
“So, what happens after he goes missing?” Nam Kyung asked, getting slightly impatient.
Juho thought carefully. ‘What happens to him?’ It wasn’t hard to imagine the man going into the mountains, and it was always possible that he would go on living under another person’s protection and care. He might be wandering aimlessly, yearning for the insect for the rest of his life, or simply, collapse, choosing not to do anything about his yearning. Or, he could get on a train heading away from his hometown.
“Don’t you think he might even come back home?” Nam Kyung asked, unable to resist any longer. Juho thought back on the looped videos he had watched. He had been trapped, repeating the same, daily life, saying the same, exact things, meeting the same, exact people. The couple Juho had met in the theme park had asked him to take a picture of them because they had wanted to treasure that moment forever.
“I don’t think that’s very likely.”
“Why is that?”
“Because he forgot,” Juho said. After swallowing the bug, the boy forgot about his tiny friend, further proof that he hadn’t thoroughly trapped the insect in a photo. If he were to have taken photos of the insect, he wouldn’t have had to worry about forgetting his tiny friend. If anything, it was a possibility, the possibility for a change. A possibility that he could always raise the insect in a more open environment. Nothing was as wide and broad as a person’s heart.
“Well, it seems like that character has fully taken shape in your mind, Mr. Woo,” Nam Kyung said, looking at the young author predicting the character’s life in its entirety. Yet, Juho shrugged it off, saying, “Things can change, of course, but that’s how I see it at the moment.”
With those words, Juho paused for a brief moment. Memories were part of the outer story as well. ‘I,’ who had forgotten something, and the lady who remembered what she had been forgetting. There had to be a reason that she had remembered. Why was she recently able to think of the story about the child who had gone missing?
“Maybe she found the fishbowl that was lying around her house somewhere.”
The fishbowl would serve as the clue. Upon finding it, the lady tried to remember where it had come from. In that case, why did she have to take it out in the first place?
“Because she came across a new animal, one that would be living in it.”
That indicated that she was ready to accept another life. She was on the way home, while ‘I’ was going away from his hometown. Going back home was only possible for those who had left their home. She had to have come across a new lifeform to occupy the fishbowl.
“Forgetting can also be a form of protection. She was probably the same as ‘I,’ who she met on the train. She had to have forgotten her story when she first left her hometown.”
Then, Nam Kyung asked, “That means there will be a day when ‘I’ finally remembers what he has been forgetting, right?”
“Yes. As long as he’s still alive.”
With that, the editor carefully put the pieces of the story together in his head.
“As long as you can turn it into writing, it should be great. Oh, you mentioned making a reference to a drunk person? If you need help with that, don’t hesitate to let me know. I might be able to take you to a company dinner.”
“That doesn’t sound like a bad idea at all!”
As their discussion neared its end, the two picked up their sandwiches.
“Are you really not gonna take part in any contests?”
Because Juho was occupied with organizing his thoughts, Bom’s question registered with him in a delay. Then, looking up, he asked, “Wha?”
“The essay contest. We barely managed to get an OK from our teachers.”
As juniors, it wasn’t easy for the veteran club members to take part in an essay contest.
“If you have the time to compete in some contest, you should be putting that time into studying.”
That was the general opinion of most teachers. However, the juniors in the Literature Club weren’t about to let the opportunity to take part in an essay contest slide any time soon, and after persuading their teachers persistently, their teachers finally gave them permission that very day. Unlike in previous years, Seo Kwang was also willing to compete in a contest. According to his own words
“When others tell me not to do something, it makes me wanna do it more.”
On top of that, with the addition of Bo Suk and the twins, the entire Literature Club was in the process of choosing a contest they wanted to compete in.
“I thought you would compete this year, too.”
Of course, that was with the exception of the young author. Then, Juho said with a shrug, “There’s a piece that I wanted to focus on.”
Although Bom was aware of it now, it had come to her as a massive shock when she heard it for the first time.
“It’s not like you’re being chased by somebody. Relax. Take your time,” Bom said, but she was fully aware that Juho wasn’t going to stop. Although she was taken aback when she was told that he was working on his next novel, she came to accept it soon after. After knowing him for three years, Juho was more than capable of doing something like that. Regardless of the circumstances, he wrote relentlessly and restlessly. He was truly an author.
“Are you nervous at all?” he asked Bom, looking at the pamphlet of the contest she had chosen to be part of in her hand.
“Of course, I am. This is a massive contest.”
Taking place over the course of two days, it was a rather large contest. The contestants were mostly composed of students who were formally trained or had serious aspirations of becoming writers. Winning an award at that contest would make it significantly easier to get into a university, and because of that, many students competed in it.
“Are you aiming for first place?”
“Of course! Might as well aim for the stars while I’m at it,” Bom said confidently. “I mean, what are the odds of competing with another person who has been writing with Yun Woo for three years?”
“I guess so.”
Bom stared intently at Juho as he nodded nonchalantly. She had always considered herself lucky. Sitting across from Yun Woo, let alone being part of the same club as Yun Woo. It was like having the luxury of listening to a world-renowned pianist performing right before her eyes on a daily basis. It was extravagant, and Bom would get to have a closer look at the pianist’s techniques and their incredible performance in great detail. She would grow and mature just from watching, and that was the kind of presence Yun Woo had.
“I got kind of cocky after winning first place last year,” Bom said with a bashful look. “And that’s when you went out and got yourself the Nebula Award.”
It was an award incomparable to that of some nameless essay contest. Knowing how serious he was about literature, Bom had genuinely congratulated the young author.
“I saw the video of Kelley Coin reading your speech after getting the award on your behalf. I gotta say, it was rather strange since you weren’t even there, but it was still really cool!”
It was an award that she could only dream of winning. He looked all the more remarkable and admirable in her eyes. She had genuine respect for the young author. On the other hand, she couldn’t help but regret not having competed or asking to compete in the same contest as him. Fortunately, it was still not too late. If she were to ask him, even now, he would be willing to grant her request. If she were to ask with enthusiasm, he wouldn’t turn her down. However, Bom chose not to. She didn’t deny her regret, which also felt like a relief at the same time. She had accepted that she didn’t have what it took to become like Yun Woo, nor did she have the desire to become him. That was how she saw herself, and she didn’t feel ashamed of it by any means. Being in the Literature Club, she came to learn that there was always room in this world for more writing, even for things written by somebody like her.
Meanwhile, Juho, too, was quietly staring at Bom, reading her thoughts.
“You’re not all that different yourself.”
“What do you mean?”
“You won an award, too. The first, and the youngest winner to win first place in the club. I can hardly see the difference.”
“C’mon, now. Of course, there is a difference. I mean, just think about the scale.”
“It might be different in terms of scale, but if you think about it, there are more similarities than differences. They’re both judged and evaluated by other people, then come the results, honor, congratulatory messages, which get recorded or exhibited somewhere.”
Just as Bom was about to deny it, Juho beat her to it.
“At the end of the day, an award is an award. What you really need to look at is your writing, not the award. I know for certain that there are readers out there who would prefer your writing over mine.”
At Juho’s remark, Bom thought of someone by reflex, her mom. Then, seeing as though she was starting to agree, Juho smiled, making her blush.
“Oh, no. That’s not”
“That’s about as encompassing as an award gets. Our hearts are much broader.”
She had never heard anything like that, and the fact that it was coming out of the mouth of a Nebula winner was even more astounding. Bom found herself getting impressed yet again. ‘He really is inherently different. His posture, his heart, his skills. That’s how he’s able to write like that.’
Bom was well aware of how the world viewed the young author. Mysterious. Alien. Talented beyond comprehension. However, anybody would be able to come to terms with one thing if they met the young author in person: only Yun Woo could write those novels. Those were truly Yun Woo’s work. His most recent work-in-progress had to be the same way. Then, she thought to herself once again, ‘Might as well aim for the stars while I’m at it.’
“You know what, who cares about the award? I’ll just focus on my writing.”
Juho smiled with satisfaction at Bom’s confidence.