stillman&birn

8

just one long game of telephone.

also just one long post to stretch your dash! i’m sorry :<

i hate, i mean hate, the first page of a sketchbook. the pressure seems to much to bear. how can i make the first page good so when someone asks, “can i see your book!” i am not embarrassed? the first page is a first-impression, the first-glance, the introduction. so i just skip it. 

so on this first page of a new sketchbook i sketched my tools. i’ve seen other artists do it and i wanted to give it a try. plus i swap inks so often i forget which is which!

“It’s such obvious advice, but it caused me to go back through my notes and, instead of asking myself, ‘What were the ten most egregious examples of abuse I found in Iraq and Afghanistan,’ actually step back and ask, ‘Who are the characters I can really get readers to invest in?’ I reexamined all of my notes through that lens and found three Fijian women whom I’d come to know, who were working in this beauty salon on a US base in Iraq, who’d been lied to about where they were going and wound up in a war zone.

”They thought they were going to be styling hair in a fancy salon in Dubai. They actually didn’t have the most egregious story compared to some of the Nepalese or Indian workers I’d spoken to, who’d been trafficked in a much more conventional sense, but I could tell their stories from A to B to C to Z. I could follow them on a journey from their very first moment of recruitment in Fiji to their winding up in Dubai and all the way to their time in Iraq—being defrauded, and one being sexually assaulted—then back home, which is where they were at the point when I wrote the story, so they were actually safe and able to talk. Thinking through how you find that intersection between individual, compelling human narratives and structural, systemic injustices—that’s the place that’s most interesting to me as a reporter.”

New Yorker staff writer Sarah Stillman talks about the “strange, extractive” process of interviewing.

Read more here.