Big Life - Chapter 3
No Money And No Recognition (3)
“Yes, yes, there is no problem. Go ahead and speak.”
The editor in chief faltered a bit and continued speaking.
-Actually, we’re worried about your current project.
“Is that so…”
-The theme of a peerless martial arts master being transported to a fantasy world is good, but focusing mostly on the fantasy plot is a little… And on top of that, it’s not as if the main character is some completely overpowered munchkin; the plot development should be about meeting stronger and stronger enemies and cultivating, but his occupation as a blacksmith is a little too boring.
Jaegun plugged his mouth to stop himself from gasping. As he turned his head and looked in front of him, he saw countless amounts of people showing a happy smile and walking past him. It seemed as if everyone was living a happy daily life except for him.
The words of the editor in chief continued.
-Mr. Ha, you always seem to be writing diligently. I know that, but because your writing focuses heavily on not leaving any holes in the plot, you lose out many opportunities to bring out more entertainment in your stories.
-If you insist on releasing your work like this, we can do it. However, your guaranteed compensation will be reduced by quite a bit and you shouldn’t expect much sales either. Also, your work might get an early termination. Instead of paper books, publishing e-books seems to be the better option for you.
Jaegun plopped down to a squat as he felt the darkness clouding his eyes.
The editor in chief added on with absolute firmness.
-You probably won’t be able to pass your previous performance, It might even be worse.
To say that I wouldn’t be able to do better than previous times. Jaegun’s heart seemed as if it would tear even though he knew the editor in chief was speaking with unbiased objectivism.
-Please think about it and contact me. There is still time left until the deadline so you have some breathing room.
“Yes, editor in chief. Thank you very much, I’ll get back to you.”
Jaegun hid his hurt feelings and intentionally replied with a vigorous voice and ended the call. Then, he opened a cigarette packet with a sigh and bit into it.
‘This is so shitty, really…!’
The previous work that the editor in chief was referring to was Jaegun’s fantasy novel that was published last year. In the end, the performance of that project was not really well received.
The series was finished with 5 books in total and the total amount of revenue that he received was less than 1,800,000 Won. You could say that each book brought in less than 360,000 Won. He had to spend a month of writing non-stop to complete a book so it was a shockingly low income.
(TL: 1,800,000 Won is roughly $1800. Just take out 3 zeros in at the end for Won and you get dollars for future reference.)
It was said that because of the increase in popularity for e-books; the situation for authors became better, but that was a faraway land for Jaegun. The monthly income that Jaegun received from e-books were too embarrassing to even mention. There were many times when the income didn’t even go over 10,000 Won.
-Does that even pay? Does it even give 1,000,000 Won for a book?
The taunting face of Myunghoon lingered in his thoughts. Jaegun wrapped his head with both his hands while biting down on his cigarette. It seemed as if each book would not even produce 300,000 Won, let alone 1,000,000 Won. The guesses of the editor in chief were correct most of the time.
‘Should I quit now…’
He couldn’t live with an income of 300,000 Won per month. Including his current one room apartment’s rent plus various bills, there was no answer to be had.
He had only two choices to make. To get a part-time job in a convenience store like last year and continue writing, or to quit altogether.
His age was already 27. There was no money saved in his bank account; a depressing life. Unknowingly, streams of tears fell from his two eyes. He felt as if there would never be a time where he would be able to laugh again. Jaegun couldn’t even wipe the tears that fell from his face as he blankly stood still.
“Go home safely.”
Jaegun said as he got off the taxi. Jungjin in the backseat was passed out drunk.
“Yea, *hiccup*. Lesh talk t’morrow. Mishter Driver, drive away. *hiccup*”
The taxi drove off along with Jungjin’s slurred speech.
Jaegun put his hands in his pockets and lifelessly walked toward his home. He intentionally got off from a decently far away place from his home. It was because his one room apartment was a bad place for a car to drive to.
To the left of the lonely road was a small river and to the right was a gloomy mountain. The road that always had a lack of people was walked by Jaegun alone with a depressed mood.
In one moment, Jaegun’s footsteps suddenly stopped. Something unnatural came into his line of sight. He looked back at the road that he came from while second-guessing himself due to his drunken state.
His vision came to a focus in between the slopes of the hill. It was a place where someone’s gravestone lied. As if the bereaved family didn’t take care of it for a long time, weeds grew in spades and the grave gave off a ghastly aura.
However, the thing that caught Jaegun’s attention was something else. The tombstone that stood still was fallen to the ground.
‘Did somebody take it down on purpose?’
Maybe the sympathy was due to the alcoholic influence. He felt sympathy for the owner of the desolate grave. On the other hand, he became curious. What kind of life must the owner have lived so the owner was abandoned by his family without a second glance. He saw the grave every day but it was his first time feeling this.
Whatever the case might have been, it was currently not important to Jaegun. As if he was drawn to the grave, he walked up the hills where there were no roads and approached the grave.
‘Wow, this… is bigger than I expected?’
The gravestone that seemed small from far away was considerably big. He pulled both his sleeves up and grabbed on to the gravestone.
As he exerted his strength and grunted, the fallen gravestone slowly came back up. Veins began to show on his blood-red face.
The massive gravestone was restored to its previous state. Jaegun’s knees were supporting his hands as he gasped for breath.
“Haa! Ha! Ha! Blu, bluurrgggh…!”
The sound of heaving came out after he exerted his strength after drinking alcohol. Jaegun threw up a mouthful of spit and then plugged his throat. If he threw up anymore, it seemed like everything he ate for dinner would come back up.
Jaegun gathered his breath and looked down at the clothes he was wearing. Both his arms and hands were covered with dirt from the gravestone.
‘Dirt is already on me so whatever.’
Jaegun walked towards the grave and started pulling the weeds that grew too much. They were more grounded than they looked so it took quite a bit of strength. It would have been good if there was a weed cutter lying around, but of course, there was no such thing.
It was the moment when he roughly cleared up the front of the grave and turned around to walk away.
“Woah! God damn!”
Jaegun fell backwards onto his butt. A cat was sitting there with its tail pointed upward. It was a kitten that had a short, deep-blue coat.
“What are you. You, you’re a house cat?”
Jaegun asked the cat. Around its neck was a red collar. On it, the Korean characters ‘Rika’ was inscribed.
“Rika? Your name is Rika?”
“Why are you in a place like this? Did you lose your way?”
The kitten looked up at Jaegun and continuously mewed. He felt as if the eye level of the kitten was high. As he looked down, the kitten was sitting on top of some box. It was a ramen box covered in duct tape.
“What is this now? This is weird.”
Maybe because this was a world where it was overflowing with bad news, scary thoughts came into his mind first. Jaegun swallowed a ball of spit, gathered courage and stretched out his hand toward the box. He steeled his resolve and decided that he would investigate it even more if it was related to a crime. The kitten came down from the box and stood next to Jaegun.
“Mmm? A notebook?”
After locating the entrance of the box, Jaegun muttered with a stupefied expression. A notebook was inside the box. You could tell it was an old, worn-out notebook. Aside from the notebook, there was a fountain pen, a mug and a brown-rimmed pair of glasses neatly laid inside the box.
“These, do these items belong to your owner?”
As if the kitten understood, it raised its head and cried out. Jaegun carefully reached out his hand and scratched the kitten’s neck. The kitten must have liked the sensation of the first time meeting Jaegun’s hands and stuck closer to him.
It was at that moment.