“Come in, come in.”
Pilhyun opened the door and waved at them to come in. Daemyung carefully went inside. The faint smell of cigarettes tickled his nose. There were piles of books stacked to the side around the living room. Pilhyun’s house hadn’t changed at all.
“Bro Ahn, you should really clean your house a little.”
“This is serious, oppa.”
Haesoo and Hanmi clicked their tongues as they made their way in. They were holding large plastic bags, which contained some cans of beer that they bought from the convenience store before they came to his house. Gwak Joon came in last and closed the door.
“Let’s start the 4th round! I’ll see the end today! Wait a bit, I’m going to change my clothes.”
Pilhyun went inside his bedroom after saying that. Gwak Joon, Haesoo, and Hanmi turned on the TV in the living room and watched it in a daze.
“Shall I put this away?” Daemyung asked as he pointed at the plastic bag.
There were around 20 beer cans. There was no way they were going to finish all that, so he was planning to leave some out and put the rest in the refrigerator.
“The beer ghost will drink it so leave it there,” Haesoo said.
Daemyung nodded then looked at the TV. There was a B-rated horror movie on TV. It was about starfish-like monsters latching onto the necks of people to control them, and it was pretty fun. He watched the movie for about 10 minutes.
“Wait, don’t tell me hyung-nim is….”
Gwak Joon stood up and quietly opened the door to the room Pilhyun went to. Daemyung also poked his head over to look. Pilhyun was lying on the bed inside the lit room. He was snoring loudly as well.
“Daemyung, help me out a little.”
He went into the room and laid Pilhyun out in a proper posture before putting a pillow behind his neck. He didn’t feel flustered or anything since this happened quite frequently when he came to Pilhyun’s house. He put a blanket over him before leaving the room.
“What about bro Ahn?”
“He’s getting old, huh. Let’s put this in the fridge. I guess it counts as a visitation present.”
Daemyung put the beer and some snacks from the plastic bag into the fridge. He only left out three beer cans and a bag of snacks to eat at the living room table.
“Little brother Joon, you drinking?” Haesoo asked as she waved a can of beer.
“Sorry. I’m tired since I drove all the way here from Busan. I think I’ll go to sleep first.”
“No wonder you looked exhausted. Go to sleep. We ladies will chat by ourselves.”
Daemyung looked at Gwak Joon entering a room as well as Haesoo and Hanmi. He wasn’t that sleepy thanks to the alcohol in his system. It was also just 1 a.m. It was a little early to fall asleep.
“Then I guess this is for you, Daemyung?”
Haesoo gave him the canned beer. When Daemyung hesitated a little, Haesoo immediately followed up.
“I’m just joking. You have to wake up early tomorrow if you want to go to school, right?”
“I usually sleep late.”
“Really? Well, I heard kids these days don’t sleep until late at night. It’s a lot different from when we were kids. Then do you want to try drinking? Only if you can, though.”
Daemyung accepted the beer for now. The beer-soju he drank at Suyeon’s house was bitter which made him get drunk easily, but he should be fine if it was just beer. He also liked the sparkling sensation when he received a drink back at the Izakaya.
“Fuu, unni, give me some water,” Hanmi, who was leaning against the sofa this whole time, said.
“Are you feeling better now?”
“Yeah. I think I am. What about oppa?”
“I said he’s dead.”
“Oh, he’s sleeping, huh. I thought that would be the case. Pilhyun-oppa would fall asleep while trying to write when we shared an office together.”
“He’s a man who gets a lot of sleep. Daemyung, can you get some water? Not for me, but for her.”
Daemyung poured a cup of cold water in the kitchen and brought it to Hanmi. Hanmi pressed down between her eyes after she accepted the cup.
“Looks like I’m old as well. I didn’t know I’d feel dizzy after just that.”
“Being dizzy isn’t the only problem. You said all sorts of stuff. If I didn’t like you, I’d have recorded all of it and then posted it on the internet with the title: ‘Almighty Lee Hanmi’s downfall’ or something.”
“That might feel refreshing. Should I stop writing dramas now? I earned plenty.”
“I thought you were writing the drama in order to solve the conflict between generations. Why are you sounding so weak now?”
“Whose side are you on, unni?”
“On the side of justice.”
“Be on my side. I have it hard.”
“Alright, who else will take your side if it’s not me? Come over here, this unni will pat your back.”
Daemyung sipped on the beer as he looked at the two. He tried to ignore them since he thought that listening to other people’s conversations was like a sin, but he couldn’t help but listen since this space wasn’t that wide. He didn’t know the details, but from what he gathered here and back at the Izakaya, Hanmi seemed to have done something bad.
‘She said she’s the writer of a drama, so it should be about New Semester.’
New Semester didn’t have that many problems until now, at least according to what aired. All of them did well in acting, and the story was good as well. From how Hanmi was worried sick about something, it seemed that she ran into trouble with an episode that hadn’t aired yet.
Daemyung thought that writing really wasn’t that easy after all as he emptied about half of the beer.
“Your name was Park Daemyung?” Hanmi asked as she stared at him.
“Yes, it is.”
“I hear that you write, correct?”
“It’s nothing amazing. I’m just learning.”
“Really? Do you find writing fun?”
Daemyung stopped to think before speaking.
“It’s not that fun.”
“Then why do you write?”
“I-I don’t know.”
“Just tell me. It’s not like I’m going to spread it to everyone. This old lady is just feeling stifled.”
Daemyung looked at Haesoo. Haesoo silently told him ‘go on’.
“It’s because what I’m writing right now is about myself.”
“I am going through the events that I encountered from elementary school to before I entered high school. It’s in a novel format, and since it’s about me, it’s not that fun.”
“Isn’t writing about yourself the most interesting writing out of everything? Writers usually don’t live in the same society as other people. Moreover, they’re frustrated all the time as well. That’s why they try to appease their inner desires by writing. It’s especially the case when the writing has the characteristics of an autobiography. Under the condition that they aren’t being censored, they can write anything they want, and that’s insanely fun. It’s just fantasy! You know, when I first wrote novels, I wrote sexual fantasy. I mean about sex, sex! Is that too blatant of a word? Then what about sexual intercourse?”
Daemyung almost spat out what he was drinking. He didn’t know where to look when she said all those words.
“Hanmi, why don’t you watch your words a little more in front of a kid?”
“Unni! Writers should not be afraid of taboos. Did you become a writer because you wanted to be respectful? No, you didn’t. You became a writer because you want to poke at the desires that you wrapped up inside your heart and liberate them. Politics, religion, sex, capitalism! Aren’t people with pens supposed to rush at those topics like madmen?”
“There you go again. Daemyung, I’m going to go away for a while, so be her talking partner for now. Now that she’s sober again, she’s trying to go back to being a lofty crane again.”
Haesoo blocked her ears and went to the kitchen. Daemyung tried to run away sneakily, but he found Hanmi sitting next to him.
“Listen to me.”
Was he supposed to kneel here? Daemyung’s body jerked before he looked at Hanmi. Like what Heasoo said, her eyes were clear as though she had sobered up. Her voice was also vivid and clear. The limp person complaining about life was gone.
“Why do you find no fun in writing? Tell me honestly. You know that this is an opportunity you won’t get anywhere, right? There are hundreds of aspiring writers who want to listen to my lectures. Even if it’s paid seminars.”
“Amazing, aren’t I?”
Daemyung hesitated a little before saying ‘you are’. Hanmi smiled when she heard that answer. For some reason, that smile looked very worrying in Daemyung’s eyes. He felt like she was the type of person who had to have other people confirm for her to keep her self-confidence.
“Tell me. Why do you find no fun in writing?”
“Uhm, if it’s just writing scripts, it’s fun. Coming up with lines is hard, but when I finish that process and look back at my work, it’s really fun. The novel I’m writing right now is about self-retrospect though, so it’s not that fun.”
“Because I was bullied.”
“With a body like that? I think you’ll be able to blow anyone out the window with a punch.”
“I look better than I did before. Before… It was all just flesh and no muscle.”
“Well, I guess such things do happen. But you still shouldn’t find writing no fun. You’re supposed to flap your wings and take off, and if you are fed up with writing at this time, you won’t be able to do anything.”
“I-is that so?”
“Of course! Look at me. You know, I’ve never failed with my writing before. Starting off my first ever mini-series, even a short skin that I wrote got good reviews. Do you know about ‘To the Sun’?”
Daemyung nodded. That was a drama he watched in middle school. It was a story about the people working in a hotel, and he had watched every single episode from beginning to end.
“I wrote that as well. 45% viewing rate. Isn’t that incredible?”
“Really? I really liked that drama.”
“I’m not surprised. I write quite well if I do say so myself. Do you want to hear about what happened back then? I was sitting in front of my desk with my laptop open when I suddenly got ideas springing up in my mind. From then on, I stayed up for three nights to create the character and the synopsis. I finished the manuscript for four episodes in exactly three months.”
“It is. I’m an amazing woman. It was back then when the chiefs of drama departments in all three TV stations wanted to meet me. Gee, even the president of RBS visited me once. He asked me to work with him. He asked me for my scripts that I had saved up. This Lee Hanmi is that kind of woman, I’m telling you.”
“Really. Do you finally get how amazing I am?”
“And this one time….”
Daemyung realized one thing as he listened to Hanmi’s words, this person wasn’t sober. Hanmi combed through her history while laughing like a fool. Daemyung kept listening to her story. She was a successful writer who still worked in the field. Although she was drunk, there should be something to learn from her from this story. Like that, he listened to her for about 30 minutes.
“But it’s over now.”
“I became scared of writing. I can’t think of anything anymore. I don’t even know what I want to write and I’m not sure if I’m writing the right thing. This never happened to me before. When I picked up the pen, my hands always started writing by themselves, and when I turned on the laptop, I could easily fill pages with text. But now, I can’t do that.”
Hanmi smashed her head on the table and started crying. Daemyung panicked. He had never seen someone so much older than him cry so sadly in front of him. Haesoo was sleeping on the sofa, so he couldn’t wake her up either.
For the time being, he gave her a tissue. After crying, Hanmi wiped her tears with the tissue.
“You shouldn’t start writing. This is horrible. I can’t see what’s in front of me anymore.”
“B-but you did well until now.”
“Until now, sure. But it’s all over now. I couldn’t write a single line even after staying up for three days and three nights. I could only type dots before I gave up. Not only that, I used a plot written by someone else; a plot that doesn’t even suit my story.”
“E-everyone makes mistakes.”
“No! I can’t make mistakes. You might not know because you’re young, but a title written by Lee Hanmi must not fail. Failure is intolerable. But I can’t write. That’s why it’s over for me.”
“Uhm, why don’t you try talking to other people?”
“If this was something I could solve by talking to another person, the pains of creativity wouldn’t exist in this world.”
Hanmi sighed. She was at the epitome of a pessimistic thought process, so Daemyung couldn’t say anything to her. If he was good with words, he could have tried consoling her, but he didn’t have that talent.
Hanmi started sniffing again.
Daemyung looked at her for a while before being reminded of his own novel. The novel that he only showed Gwak Joon and Maru. The work he wrote as he reminded himself of the days where he insulted himself even more than others insulted him. Daemyung didn’t want to go back to the past at all. He was so proud of himself right now.
He treated the previous him before he started writing as someone who deserved those insults and resolved that he should make the most out of the present. However, he changed his mind when he started writing. His past - those painful moments - wasn’t something to be cherished. There were memories he wanted to forget about and a past he wanted to erase - that did not change. He tried to remove more of his shameful moments and fill his work with his cool moments, but the more he wrote, the more he thought that he shouldn’t run away from reality. That was why he wrote about everything. It was an excruciating process. The emotions from those moments came back to him vividly to the point that they made him want to stop writing.
Despite that, Daemyung kept writing. It was not fun nor was it enjoyable. However, he continued because he thought that it was a necessary process. Writer Bae Chulho once told him that writing is like cloning oneself, as well as the fact that writing will lose all power when the writer denies themselves, whether it be their past or their present.
“Can you have a look at my writing?”
Daemyung quietly looked at Hanmi, and Hanmi nodded even while frowning. Daemyung took out a notebook from his bag and gave it to Hanmi.
“You want me to evaluate your writing?”
“No. It’s just… I thought that I should show you.”
“What do you mean?”
“Just read it for now. I hope it can be of help to you. Though, I might be misunderstanding something all by myself.”
After that, Daemyung no longer spoke.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Nothing to comment in this chapter
Man. What is it with the author and super annoying characters recently. Jeez.
P.S I forgot to mention it a few chaps ago but an Izakaya is the Japanese equivalent of a tavern (a bar where you can get food and drinks)