Word for Word

A Writer’s Life

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Pub Date 11 May 2021 | Archive Date 10 May 2021

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Description

In Word for Word, accomplished author Laurie Lisle shares her hard-earned wisdom about the writing life. A perfect book for aspiring and seasoned writers, as well as fans of Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird.

Raised in a traditional 1950s New England family, Laurie Lisle rejected the boundaries of her upbringing and followed her drive to write. Coming of age during the women’s liberation movement, she joined Newsweek shortly after it was sued for sexism, hoping to find new opportunities for women writers, but she had to fight for every step forward.

Word for Word is the dramatic story of Lisle’s determination to become a published author, from her early days in journalism to writing her groundbreaking biographies of legendary artists Georgia O’Keeffe and Louise Nevelson. Lisle discusses the demands of writing honestly about others and herself while unflinchingly sharing successes, stumbling blocks, and relationships that threatened to silence her written voice.

In this frank memoir, Lisle asks what a writer—or anyone devoted to self-expression in the arts—needs to flourish and find fulfillment in work and life. She shares insights from artists and other authors and reflects on the way nature nurtures a literary life. Throughout, she examines how the private and professional parts of a writer’s life intertwine, explores what enables words to flow and what stops them, and shows where the writing life can ultimately lead.

In Word for Word, accomplished author Laurie Lisle shares her hard-earned wisdom about the writing life. A perfect book for aspiring and seasoned writers, as well as fans of Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird...


A Note From the Publisher

Laurie Lisle has been a professional writer and published author for most of her adult life. Prior to publishing Portrait of an Artist, her bestselling biography of Georgia O’Keeffe, Lisle worked in journalism for newspapers and magazines. Her other books include Louise Nevelson: A Passionate Life and titles about women without children, gardening, and educating girls. Her work has been described as “an act of courage” and “elegantly written yet also edgily realistic.” Lisle lives in Sharon, Connecticut, with her husband, artist Robert Kipniss, and when she isn’t writing enjoys working in her garden. For more information, see www.laurielisle.com.

Laurie Lisle has been a professional writer and published author for most of her adult life. Prior to publishing Portrait of an Artist, her bestselling biography of Georgia O’Keeffe, Lisle worked in...


Advance Praise

Word for Word is a beautifully-told story about the growth of a woman writer of the second-wave generation, whose intellectual and spiritual debts are to women writers, feminism, and, more generally, strong women. The deeply felt descriptions of landscape, light, flowers and even clothing give special meaning to Lisle’s biographies of two important women artists, Georgia O'Keeffe and Louise Nevelson, and add to her gardening memoir, Four Tenths of an Acre, in affirming the author as a memoirist. - Carol Ascher, author of Afterimages: A Family Memoir

At the heart of this searching memoir is the author’s struggle to establish a writing career while trying to find happiness with the right man. Her accounts of researching the first biography of Georgia O’Keeffe and discovering the delights of the natural world are intertwined with the truths she learns about love, work, and self-reliance. - Cathy Curtis, author of A Generous Vision: The Creative Life of Elaine de Kooning

Word for Word is a beautifully-told story about the growth of a woman writer of the second-wave generation, whose intellectual and spiritual debts are to women writers, feminism, and, more generally...


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Available Editions

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ISBN 9781735980102
PRICE $17.95 (USD)

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Featured Reviews

Laurie Lisle’s memoir, as her title indicates, has to do with an author’s need for self-fidelity in the search for truth that all honest writing must be. Factual accuracy is of course what a journalist aspires to, and this author does begin her writerly career as a journalist. There is indeed plenty of truth-facing in her book, which often gives the reader the impression that the author is balance-walking through her life on the edge of a knife of fortune and decision-making, leading us with her by the hand or reminding us of our own halting stories. Truth, however, is not a catalog of accurate facts, but requires and even fosters reflection and wisdom as experiences compile into patterns. As the biographer of two artists who are, above all else, true to their art and to themselves, Laurie Lisle develops a reflective consciousness of her own informed by, but larger than, the sum of her remembered (and carefully archived) personal experiences. It seems perfectly in keeping with the course of her self-narrative that the book ends in her garden and in her memory of her mother, where the sharp ego-involved edges of family, career, and marriage conflicts that she has led us through diffuse into a tranquil place of belonging and forgiveness. Word for Word is a book that accurately captures the challenges and accomplishments of a woman’s life as it was lived through the second half of the last century into our present time, but that lifts itself out of the anxiety of what it means to struggle day-to-day to place us in the peace of the serene gaze of memory, serene because memory allows us to leave go of ourselves. This self-forgetting is, after all, what allows us to remember, as Marc Augé reminds us: “Memories are crafted by oblivion as the outlines of the shore are created by the sea.”

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Beautiful. As someone who also answered "writer" when asked what I wanted to be, I could relate greatly to this title. Maybe now I'll put feet to those dreams and begin! It was encouraging to read Laurie's journey and I highly recommend it to readers and budding writers.

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The best memoirs are written by those old enough to be able to thoughtfully look back and examine their life. Laurie Lisle is a distinguished writer in her seventies who explores the writing life of her earlier years and what it means to be a writer when married or when considering whether or not to have children. This is a beautifully written, if slow, book about writing biographies and memoir and the ways her life has evolved in order to embrace the writing life. I received a digital ARC of this book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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WORD FOR WORD, A WRITERS LIFE BY LAURIE LISLE #WordforWord,#NetGalley,#LaurieLisle,#GirlFridayProductions Laurie Lisle has written a memoir of her aspiration from young of becoming a writer. She was raised in a strict family by her mother and stepfather in New England. Inside and outside of the house, and verbal restrained and the reluctance of what one thought about, ruled. Laurie had a habit of writing down thoughts in a diary and journal from a young age. She felt alone among classmates. In fact, in a letter to a boyfriend, she says” I give my best indirectly through writing” She compares the lives of other female writers such as Virginia Wolf, Betty Friedan, Shulamith Firestone, Kate Millet, Robin Morgan and others. How they managed to be writers. After graduation, she started as a reporter on Wall Street. However, her dream is to write her own story. Simultaneously, her thoughts are, can she manage writing if she is married, a wife, a mother. Will she be free to pursue her thoughts without the family support needs? Will she continue to write when she felt slighted or opposed? Writers required their own space. She also noted that a few middle-class wives had careers. It is either working or parenting. The housewives' syndrome petrified her. A suburban housewife was living in a ”comfortable concentration camp.” Laurie wrote a biography, Portrait of an Artist, about an elderly artist Georgia O’Keeffe, famed for her Mexican landscapes. Gerogia O’Keeffes life has answered Lauries many questions about how many women in the arts had managed to express themselves so fully, freely, and fearlessly for long. Another biography, A Passionate Life, about sculptor Louise Nevelson, followed and Laurie was writing other people's stories. Eventually, Word For Word, is her story, her thoughts and emotions of becoming a writer. A good read, especially for budding writers. I rate it a 4 star read. Thank you, NetGalley, Laurie Lisle, and Girl Friday Productions for an e ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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This book is an adventure I never knew I needed as a writer. Dripping with empathy and real-life wonderment about the highs and lows that cleave to writers and the intersection with day-to-day variables—such as relationships, hobbies, sacred spaces and more—Lisle is ever a timeless artist in her medium of words and their arrangement. Unexpected, essential surprises touched me deeply—as a woman without children, when I pondered her sentiment, “I recognized that creative work that demands inspiration and inventiveness, as well as many hours alone, needs to be protected and nurtured not unlike taking care of a child.” Freedom flitted off these pages. Whether the reader works in literary circles or simply desires to read about the life of an intentionally-perseverant woman, I wholeheartedly recommend this work.

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