Big Life

Chapter 29: Is This A Competition? (2)

Chapter 29: Is This A Competition? (2)

"Geez, so there was a reason why mechanical keyboards are becoming popular these days."

"Meow, meow." Rika cried in response as she sat on Ha Jae-Gun's lap.

Ha Jae-Gun's fingers danced rapidly on the mechanical keyboard, and the sound his keyboard was making sounded more pleasant than the sound that his previous keyboards could produce.

The mechanical keyboard came from Haetae Media. The feedback from each key press felt different, and it felt so great that it was actually quite enjoyable to type on it. Ha Jae-Gun had always been curious about these mechanical keyboards, but because they were pretty expensive, so he had never really used one before.

Today, he finally understood why everyone was singing praises for mechanical keyboards.

“Rika, the keys sound different to you as well, right? I searched and saw that one of these costs four hundred thousand won. The one I had before only cost nine thousand won, and I bought it at the Yi-Mart[1]. What’s their intention for gifting me this expensive keyboard? Do they want me to write another volume for Wizard of Pezellon?” Ha Jae-Gun asked as he continued typing on the keyboard.

Noon arrived soon. It was hot outside, but Ha Jae-Gun’s surroundings were cool, thanks to the air conditioner.


It was a call from Lee Soo-Hee.

Ha Jae-Gun picked up his phone and answered the call. “Hey, Soo-Hee.”

— I’ve received the additional quests you sent. They’re entertaining, as expected.

“That’s great.”

— Have you had lunch yet?

“I don’t have any appetite. What about you?”

— I’m out looking for lunch right now. Remember to have your meals on time. Ah, are you free this evening? I’m meeting Hyo-Jin later. Do you want to meet up for dinner? We can call Jung-Jin along, too.”

“Sorry, I have a project I’m working on right now. I’m afraid I don’t have time,” said Ha Jae-Gun as he moved his mouse and clicked open Word.

The manuscript for A 90’s Kid filled the screen.

— As usual, you’re busy writing. You should learn to take some rest, too. Otherwise, you’ll be prone to sickness.

“Well, it’s just for another half a month.”

— Why, specifically half a month? Are you preparing for something else?”

As expected, Lee Soo-Hee was quick on the uptake.

Ha Jae-Gun chuckled and answered, “I’ll tell you if things go well.”

— Tell me, anyway, regardless of the results. I want to read your work.

“I got it.”

A sudden sigh was heard from the other side of the line. Ha Jae-Gun felt apologetic, but he kept quiet because he couldn’t tell her anything. Soon, Lee Soo-Hee replied in a cheerful voice once more.

— All right. Then, let’s meet up next time since you’re busy today. Good luck, and let’s keep in touch!

“Yeah, good luck to you, too.”

Ha Jae-Gun ended the call and repositioned himself. He then placed his hands on the keyboard. He drew in a couple of deep breaths before focusing on revising A 90’s Kid.

Today was his third time revising the manuscript.

Senior, is this scene of visiting a good friend in prison a good one?’ Ha Jae-Gun asked inwardly as he recalled the blurry image of Seo Gun-Woo he had seen in his dream.

Ha Jae-Gun had never met Seo Gun-Woo in real life, but the elderly man’s voice rang in his ears.

[It looks natural. Not bad at all. However, I think it would be better to hold out for a while more until they greet each other.]

‘That sounds better, too. I should edit this, then. What about the scene where the main character meets his first love?’

[You’ve got too many unnecessary dialogues here. The lines are all about the main character, without any connection to his first love. I think it’s good to delete the entire chunk there.]

‘Delete everything? But this scene ends with an explanation to his first love about how tough his life has been so that she'll understand him, right?’

[That’s called self-pity. You’re creating a self-insert main character here, which is unnecessary. It doesn’t fit in the story as well as in the character development.]

From a particular word to the sentence and now the paragraph itself, Ha Jae-Gun got into conflicts with Seo Gun-Woo every time, most of which ended in Ha Jae-Gun’s defeat. He graciously accepted the defeat and compromised.

Seo Gun-Woo, who held high importance in the completeness of a novel, made cutting remarks whenever he was pointing out something. Thanks to that, Ha Jae-Gun improved rapidly while gaining new knowledge.

Of course, Ha Jae-Gun would win once or twice out of every ten conflicts, especially in the ambiguous parts of literary characteristics. If the overall development wouldn’t become unreasonable, Ha Jae-Gun’s stubbornness as a writer seldom yielded to Seo Gun-Woo.

‘Even if you say this, I think it’s better to stick with this. This isn’t even hardboiled fiction[2], so I think it’s too much to remove the entire chunk.’

[Do as you please. It’s not my novel, anyway.]

Typing sounds could be constantly heard throughout the studio.

Realizing that Ha Jae-Gun was starting to get engrossed in his work, Rika got down from his lap and moved onto Ha Jae-Gun’s bed.

Meow.” Rika cried while looking into the space behind Ha Jae-Gun for a while. Then, she closed her eyes and slept.

‘I think I’ve fixed enough. It should be good to end this here. I won’t be taking this out until the deadline of the contest.’

Ha Jae-Gun saved the manuscript of A 90’s Kid after wrapping up his third revision and opened a new document window. A clean document without a single character on it filled the screen.

[Are you looking to write a new novel?]

Ha Jae-Gun seemed like he could hear Seo Gun-Woo asking him that question.

Ha Jae-Gun twiddled his fingers and replied inwardly.

A 90’s Kid was a novel I had written and held onto since my university days. Now that I’ve got a lot of time left after finishing my preparations for the contest, I want to take this chance and work on a new full-length novel.’

[All right, have you decided on a subject?]

‘I want to write about my sister. She never got the chance to date or get into romantic relationships because she had always been busy working to make ends meet. After I’m done with the first draft, please take a look at it.’

Tadadak! Tak! Tadadadak!

Ha Jae-Gun started writing, and it sounded as if there were fireworks in the room.

Ha Jae-Gun wrote every single memory of his beloved sister that he could still remember with utmost sincerity and accuracy. Today would be just another quiet summer day.

It seemed that Ha Jae-Gun would also not be able to experience a summer-like[3] day this year.

Ha Jae-Gun knew that it would happen, so he wasn’t disappointed at all. A great teacher was giving him pointers, and he could finally write novels in the genres he particularly liked. He wanted nothing more than days like this.


“Thank you for your hard work, editor-in-chief.”

“Ms. So-Mi, too. Ah, you’ll be on leave from tomorrow onward, right?”

“Yes, for the next four days.”

It was finally after office hours, and Kwon Tae-Won and Jung So-Mi could finally clock out of the office.

Summer was about to end. Jung So-Mi no longer received any errands from Deputy Ko, and she was finally becoming confident in her job as an editor. Naturally, her work efficiency had been improving as well.

“You said you’ll be visiting home, right?”

“Yes. The crowd must have already gone back home by now, so it should be quiet and peaceful. This is the perfect time to take a good rest before coming back to work.”

Kwon Tae-Won looked up at the ceiling and let out a sigh. “Come to think of it, I haven’t been to the beach in ages. I have always been so busy working that I don’t think I have had any summer experience in recent years.”

“You should visit the beach with your family. You just have to make a decision, and the beach is just a three-hour drive, anyway.”

“That’s true. The decision itself is the hardest.”

“My parents run a homestay at Mookho, so if you have plans to visit the place, please let me know. I’ll make arrangements for you.”

Haha, are you trying to get my business?”

Oops, I got caught.”

Just as they pressed the button for the elevator, Jung So-Mi’s phone vibrated. She took it out and saw that it was a message from Ha Jae-Gun.

“Editor-in-chief, it’s Writer Ha.”

“Writer Ha? What did he say?”

Instead of reading the message, Jung So-Mi handed her phone to him.

It was a three-liner message that made Kwon Tae-Won smile.

— I’m almost done with the manuscript for the Digital Literature Award. I’ll finish up the first draft of my next fantasy novel up to volume five and send it over soon. Please relay my message to the editor-in-chief. And enjoy your vacation. ^^

“He’s a great man. His summer vacation is almost over, though.” Kwon Tae-Won leaned against the wall of the elevator and licked his lips.

Kwon Tae-Won couldn’t help but be amazed by Ha Jae-Gun’s stamina.

It wasn’t really strange because Ha Jae-Gun was almost done with his manuscript for the Digital Literature Award, and he was apparently going to write his next fantasy novel right afterward.

Jung So-Mi pressed the button for the first floor and said, “Editor-in-chief, you mentioned writing a fantasy novel back when you were a student, right?”

“Yeah. Thankfully, I found out that I wasn’t cut out for it after just two years. Creating original novels and editing work are truly different from each other. Speaking of which, weren’t you an illustrator as well, Ms. So-Mi?”

“I found that I wasn’t cut out for it in just a year,” said Jung So-Mi.

There was a momentary pause before the two of them burst into laughter in the elevator at the same time.

When their laughter died down, Jung So-Mi took the chance to reply to Ha Jae-Gun’s message, asking him to work hard and write the best novel he could possibly write so that he could enjoy his entire summer vacation next year.


‘Phew, I’m going crazy…!’

Oh Myung-Hoon was repeatedly standing up and sitting down at this desk for quite a while now. Today, the results of the Digital Literature Award would be announced.

They would usually contact the winners in advance before the actual announcement date to give them a detailed brief for the award ceremony and enough time to prepare an acceptance speech.

However, Oh Myung-Hoon hadn’t received any call at all. It was to be expected because he had submitted his manuscript under the pen name Ahn Sung-Woo without leaving any means for the company to contact him.

‘I’m going to win, I know I’m going to win. Hyung’s revision was perfect, so there’s no way I’ll lose.’

He desperately wanted to win this contest. He wanted to crush that brazen Ha Jae-Gun whom he met back during the authors’ meet. He also wanted to attract Lee Soo-Hee’s recognition as both a writer and a man.

‘Hoo… Hoo…!’

Oh Myung-Hoon drew in deep breaths and calmed himself down. Then, he closed his eyes and clicked on the post title related to the Literature Award. The names of the Award winners were then displayed on the screen.

Oh Myung-Hoon peeked through his fingers with fear as he started reading from the bottom of the post where the details of the winners were being shown.

A total of nineteen participants would be awarded with 1 grand prize, 3 runner-ups, and 15 consolation prizes.

‘Nice, I’m not on the consolation winners list. That’s a given. I’d reject the award immediately if it were a consolation prize.’

Oh Myung-Hoon then looked toward the runner-up list, and his eyes widened as a surge of both anger and delight shook him to his core.

‘Runner-up? I got the runner-up prize?’

He let out a sigh of relief, but he also felt disappointment in himself. There was no doubt that the novel Solitude in Seoul, written by the pen name Ahn Sung-Woo, was also listed under the runner-up prize list.

‘Damn it…! Who pushed into the runner-up list?! Is there no fixed subject for this contest? Just what criteria are the judges using to rate the books in this contest?!’

Oh Myung-Hoon gnashed his teeth and looked at the next column.

He immediately turned pale, and he stiffened like a stone statue.

There was no way he could forget that name.

1. In Korea, there's a large supermarket/convenience store brand called Emart. ☜

2. A literary genre that shares some of its characters and settings with crime fiction. ☜

3. He’s busy writing, so it seems that he won’t be able to get out there and enjoy the summer ☜

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