One of my favourite ideas in the Harry Potter series was the pensieve, where you could syphon off thoughts and leave them swirling mysteriously in a rather beautiful stone bowl. In the novels, these were memories of significant events which helped Harry lurch on towards the final battle with his nemesis when the plot had got a bit stuck (sorry, JK). If I had my own pensieve, though, I’d fill it with the bits of my own personality which I don’t particularly like or want to deal with.
There are plenty of these bits – the occasional mean streak, when I’ll say or do something that upsets someone else, even the odd bit of sneakiness, when I get my way by underhand methods. Well, needs must. But mostly I would dump my obsessiveness.
Don’t get me wrong, it can be very useful to be obsessive, particularly for a writer. No one else cares whether you get the words down or not (unless you are JK Rowling, of course, and vast industries ride on the back of your pen) and it is only your own drive to continue which pulls the whole sorry camel train of translucent plot and Ryvita characters along.
But obsessiveness is not my friend at 3am when I cannot forget a slight. It is not helpful when I rehash conversations with no hope of getting them to turn out as beautifully as a row of freshly baked cupcakes. And I particularly hate it when it makes it difficult to forgive people who are not perfect, damn them.
If I had a pensieve, it would be overflowing, and all that dry ice would fill up the house. We’d be blundering about all over the place. Just as well they don’t exist. But I would still love one all the same. What would you put in yours?