Jenny Anne Mannan

American Songstress


The other day I was researching the submission criteria for works of non-fiction to an online journal. This journal is looking for well-written prose in a distinct voice that entertains and informs without coming across as didactic or preachy. Huh. After I refreshed myself on the exact meaning of the word, I wondered why so much non-fiction is so very didactic. (Or preachy, or intended to teach or instruct, or convey moral lessons, if, like me, you need a refresher.)

I was required to keeep a journal when I was a kid, and I hated it. For one thing, I was not a fan of my handwriting. This might have had something to do with the fact that I was writing while we were riding in the family tour bus down I-90, now that I think about it. Also, journalling was just boring. I labored under the misapprehension that recording my experiences was not useful to anyone unless I attached some moral significance or lesson to my musings, and so I would try to extract some kind of confession or prayer or something that made my day seem important. Just imagine the self-imposed moralizing of a sensitive 12-year-old. Like you, I cringe. I burn with s. and r. No doubt my mother would find these entries adorable and sweet, but that's because her judgment would be clouded by a mother's love.

Years later, I find myself still looking for the lesson in everything. Maybe I'm trying to crack the code, manage the circumstances and God and the world so that things come out the way I want them to. The epic themes that weave throughout this little story of mine don't really seem signficant enough for me sometimes - themes of friendship, betrayal, sacrifice, loss, romance, love, death, rebirth, failure, redemption, hope, atonement...I feel like I have to tie them up with a little blue ribbon of goodness. It's partly that I like blue ribbons, and I like for things to be pretty and tidy. It's partly that I want to be in control of how things turn out. And it's partly that I want some credit for how they turn out. Which is just silly, because who enjoys a roller coaster ride while they're busy trying to run it?

So today, instead of preaching, I'll try to remember that I'm a human being. Not a human being good.

Copyright 2016, Jenny Anne Mannan. All rights reserved.