Last Wednesday was Valentine’s Day, a day of love and romance. I couldn’t help but think of this one particular story that I will be sharing with you today…
There once lived a middle-aged physic professor named Anthony. At the time, Anthony was dating a novelist who went by the name of Emma. Anthony had dated many ladies before, but he felt that Emma was the one. Gathering his courage, Anthony took Emma to her favorite restaurant before proposing to her later that night.
“Oh Anthony, I love you very much, but I don’t think you truly know what kind of a person I am.”
“What do you mean Emma? I know your favorite foods and what books you like. I know what you like to wear and what you like to hear.”
“Anthony. I am a writer. You are a scientist. Our thinking is fundamentally different! I still have much workto do before I can publish my next book.” Emma paused for a moment, looking teary eyes of Anthony. “Anthony, will you write a book for me? Write a 50,000-word book for me, and I will marry you.”
The next day, Anthony began writing his book. In his eyes, 50,000-word book shouldn’t be that hard to write but before long he ran into a problem. No matter how hard he tried, the characters of his book just didn’t feel alive. His book was stale and eventually became unbearable to write.
“Anthony, you got to think about your characters beyond the scope of the book,” Emma advised when Anthony asked for help. “You have to picture them from the day they were born to their very last breath. You have to not only know what values motivate your characters, but also what events in their life fostered their values!”
Anthony scraped the first draft of his story and began brain storming about characters. As the first rays of sunlight peaked over the mountains off in the distance, Anthony had created his first (and last) character, Anna.
Weeks passed, Emma had finished her book. However, she had not heard from Anthony since the night she gave him advice on character creation. Emma called him many times, but he would not answer. Then she called the university that Anthony taught at and found that Anthony began to skip work days and eventually quit work altogether! At last she decided to go visit him personally at his apartment.
When Anthony opened the door, a rich aroma of eastern cuisine greeted Emma who had rang the doorbell. Glancing in, Emma saw an unusually clean room illuminated the whickering flames of candles.
“I was not expecting guests today. Would you like to join us, Emma?”
Slightly puzzled, Emma accepted Anthony’s invitation and entered the apartment. Upon closer inspection she saw two sets of plates and silverwares set neatly upon a small table in the middle of the dim room. Anthony disappeared into the kitchen before reappearing with a third set.
“Anthony, who are those for?”
“For you of course. Let’s eat. Anna is waiting for us.”
Looking around the room, Emma confirmed that there were just the two of them.
“Anthony how is the book going?”
A moment of silence followed. It did not take long for Emma to understand what had transpired.
“For the majority of people, what they love exists only in the imagination. The object of their love is not the man or woman of reality, but what he or she is like in their imagination. The person in reality is just a template used for the creation of this dream lover. Eventually, they find out the differences between their dream lover and the template. If they can get used to those differences, then they can be together. If not, they split up. It’s as simple as that. You differ from the majority in one respect: You didn’t need a template,” Emma said before leaving the dimly lit room.
This story was inspired by a section from the book the Dark Forest by Liu CiXin, and the last quote was actually a quote from the story. However, the originally version of this story was a lot longer and had a lot more context (we are talking about at least 800 pages of stuff). I found the authors idea very intriguing and worthy of sharing. Hope you enjoyed it.