It Chooses You by Miranda July
Feature Image via NY times
For: anyone who has hit a creative wall.
Why read It Chooses You
From a young age, humans in this world fascinated me.
I traveled to rural Africa to connect with the people I studied in books and stared at in photos. I studied journalism in college as a way to hear the stories of others that might otherwise go unheard. I gravitated to portraiture in my photography classes. Landscapes of mountains and sunsets don’t affect me as much as someones wrinkles, scars and smile lines and the story behind them do. Sometimes, the expression in someone’s eyes has the power to physically jar my body. In short, I am most inspired by individuals.
If you haven’t noticed, my book reviews focus almost entirely around memoirs or a written account of a person’s life or experiences. Just recently, I was hired to write the memoir of an eccentric man and I couldn’t be more excited to take on this opportunity. Usually such a big project would make me feel slightly anxious or bring up feelings of self-doubt, but it was perfectly timed with me picking up Miranda July’s book It Chooses You.
“It occurred to me that everyone’s story matters to themselves, so the more I listened, the more she wanted to talk.” – Miranda July
Even accomplished people feel self-doubt and fear failure
Even the most confident people I’ve met have expressed feelings of self-doubt and fear of failure to me.
It’s natural and normal, but the one we’re most ashamed of. We’re all struggling to impress someone, whether it is an employer, a rival, a lover, a parent, social media or ourselves. These voices in our head of comparison or self-doubt have the power to hold us back. However, we can also use them as our motivator to drive us to achieve things we might not even have known we were capable of.
It Chooses You reminded me of the humanistic feelings not only the “average” person experiences, but even an accomplished author and filmmaker like Miranda July.
From procrastination came inspiration
After the success and praise of her first film Me and You and Everyone We Know, July struggled to finish her anticipated second film. Like all writers and creatives, mental blocks are unavoidable. Nonetheless, they’re frustrating. Maybe you’re a college student or maybe you have a big deadline at work. Either way, procrastination is present in everyone’s life. It’s what we do within our procrastination that matters.
“All I ever really want to know is how other people are making it through life—where do they put their body, hour by hour, and how do they cope inside of it.”- Miranda July
Some of us stare blankly into a document or get lost in the Internet world but July procrastinated by reading ads in the PennySaver.
The ads varied from leather jackets to bullfrog tadpoles and more unthinkable items.
Leather jackets and bullfrog tadpoles
July began wondering about the kinds of individuals who would sell such items. She was curious, and so she approached the sellers, not only about the unusual items but for an interview from the sellers themselves. More often than not, her interview requests would be rejected. But sometimes, rarely, the sellers would agree, and this where It Chooses You began. In time, these interviews formed into a collection of interviews and photography as well as as July’s personal narrative throughout the experience.
It Chooses You uniquely captures the process of finding and feeling inspiration to produce a piece of work of art. It captures the journey, that chaotic and beautiful in-between that leads to the end product. The in-between that can oftentimes prove to be more interesting and entertaining.
Miranda July goes on to stumble on the inspiration she had been lacking in her life. Instead of drowning in a battle of forcing inspiration, the inspiration chose her.
Give it some space
In a world of power struggles and control issues, July shows to us the influence of how space can benefit our creative lives. Sometimes stepping back and becoming an observer in our own life and the lives of others can create something without realization. For July, it was her version of journalism, It Chooses You and her second film produced after the fact, The Future.
This quick read is for anyone who has hit a wall creatively. It’s for anyone who finds inspiration within unexpected people. It’s for anyone who sees a story within every individual. It’s for those needing to step outside of one’s own life and into the world of another.
Buy the book here