“I, … I did it,” said Ruby. She timidly handed the Elf-transformed me her manuscript bundle.
“Hey hey, you’re done already? That’s some fast writing you have there! It’s only been three days since I asked you to write the sequel”
I reckon there’s about 100 pages of story there, at least.
It takes effort to be able to write this much by hand.
“I … I like, writing … and … and I wanted to, hurry … and show it to Shuka … ”
“Hmm. So what they said about what one likes one is good at yadda yadda¹, it’s true after all. — well, let’s read the manuscript then”
¹ «TN: suki koso mono no jouzu nare; What one likes one does well»
I sat on the inn’s bed and read the sequel of Ruby’s dream novel in an editorial mood.
I flipped the pages one after the other, while Ruby looked at me tensely.
By the way, I’m a quick reader.
I used to be a bookworm back in my previous life, and even while job hunting I received offers from several publishers.
Well, in the end I decided to follow my parents and work in a government office — I never thought I’d be here after all this sitting in the editor’s seat.
“I finished reading it all”
Smoothly, I laid the manuscript aside.
“You did well”
“R, … really … !”
“Yeah, you have good rhythm with your sentences, and the development was reasonable. You wouldn’t think an amateur wrote that. But you know…”
I sighed and continued.
“— It was hopelessly tedious”
“Eh … ”
“It’s not a failure. In fact, it was difficult to find the fault there. But you know, it doesn’t have a charm, at all. There’s no spark of ‘you’ anywhere in this novel”
The first dream novel Ruby wrote about Yuutarou had an intense energy to it.
But the story was nothing much.
A timid girl meets a boy who looked like a hero, after interacting with him she opened her heart, and finally loved each other fiercely, that kind of common thing.
But it had the passion to spark a flame in the reader.
As evidenced by Liu writhing in agony after reading it.
But the new work did not have that passion.
“Peaceful everyday life with the partner she married in the previous book — are you making fun of sequels? Make it more lively, flirt the reader! This is boring, too boring! Don’t think you can fake skimping on development with pretty descriptions”
I threw the manuscript at Ruby’s feet.
“U … uu … horrible … you didn’t have to … say it like that … ”
Ruby started to cry after the criticism.
Along with her trembling body, her giant breasts also jiggled … I thought I was going to lose it.
So I don’t lose my libido even when transformed into a woman, huh.
“Oi oi, you’re crying from just that? I’m appalled, mental weakness is fatal when you’re going to engage in literary work — so what’re you going to do? Quit? I don’t mind either way, though”
I said that to provoke her. Ruby bit her lip and stopped her tears.
“… uu, gh … I, won’t quit … !”
“Alright, so a rival comes and they fight it over the boyfriend. Not bad, getting a new character in, but this rival girl, she reeks of being a stalking horse. She’s going to get jealous and cross paths and there will be misunderstandings, but there’ll be a happy ending anyways, right? I can see it from a mile away — rejected”
“Oi oi oi, what the hell is this. I did say to make the development more lively, but making the boyfriend fall ill is way too easy. Haha, such a cheap story — rejected”
“Okay, so she starts a shop with the boyfriend and competes with a rival shop. Are you making fun of businesspeople? There’s no detail at all. That stuff is the soul of business novels you know — rejected”
No matter how many times Ruby rewrote and came back with the sequel, none of them were interesting.
She still had the beginners luck from the inspiration when she wrote the first volume.
But that won’t last long.
Inspiration will eventually stop.
Once it does, what will support the novelist will be her own abilities.
Her inborn talents and what she acquired through effort — reading experience, writing experience, and also life experience.
She wouldn’t be able to put in the same kind of passion like she did in the initial days unless she mobilized everything she had in her —.
… so I said, completely immersed in being an editor.
“But you see, you still haven’t grown, have you. You have a hobby wasting paper or something? So weird. Say sorry to the precious resource. Come on, say it, I’m sorry, I’m telling you say it. One, two, three, go!”
I put my elbows on the pile gathered from the bundles of discarded manuscripts and once again showered harsh words on Ruby.
“… But, I, I … w, worked hard … and, and Shuka, you … you keep on, saying h, horrible things … ”
“Worked hard? So what? Don’t get the idea that an author will be judged on how hard she worked. What your readers want from you is the brilliance of the end result. They won’t care about anything else”
“U, uu … but … w, what should, I … do, Shuka … you, never say anything … other than rejected … you, you never did anything for me … ”
“Hold on hold on, what are you saying. I’m the investor, aren’t I? I shelled out the cash, didn’t I? I don’t have any responsibility to do anything more than that — but well, that might be too harsh”
I walked up to Ruby.
I grabbed her chin and pulled her face up.
“Eh … ah, um … Shuka, san … ?”
“There are two reasons why you can only write boring stories. The first one is: you have never looked at the world”
I parted Ruby’s long forelocks.
A pair of cute eyes peeked. Eyes that were usually hidden.
“Hiding yourself, locking yourself at home, hiding your face with your bangs and protecting yourself. Working only the power of your imagination within your shell. That’s what’s wrong about you”
“That’s … because, even, if I go outside … I have no … friends … ”
“Hmm. Then that’s why you were locking yourself up each and every day, is it?”
Listen up, I looked into Ruby’s eyes.
“This world has no locks on it. You can go anywhere if you want. So long as you have the will to ‘see’, the desire to ‘meet'”
I grabbed Ruby’s hand.
“… Shuka … ?”
“Let’s go out to town. This way first”
I took Ruby outside.
To begin her departure into a new world.