Word for Word Page
In her latest book, Word for Word: A Writer's Life, Laurie shares her hard-earned wisdom about the writing life. It's a book for aspiring and seasoned writers and those who enjoy memoirs. Published in hardcover, paperback, and ebook editions on May 11th, 2021.
Raised in a traditional 1950s New England family, Laurie rejected the boundaries of her upbringing and followed her drive to write. She came of age during the women's liberation movement and 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 her 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. She 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, Laurie 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.
Early Praise for Word for Word
"Word for Word "pulses with intellectual discussions, lived feminist history and its resultant tensions, and the fascinating literary milieu Laurie Lisle encounters at writing retreats…She's admirably frank about her inner world of vacillation and offers compelling insights and anecdotes of a writing life. This unconventional memoir details one accomplished woman writer's dedication to developing her voice. It's great for fans of Vivian Gornick's Fierce Attachments, Rebecca Solnit's Recollections of My Nonexistence."
- BookLife (Read the entire BookLife review here)
"With Word for Word, Laurie Lisle enters the pantheon of great memoirists . . . Bolstered by exquisite, evocative observations of the physical world that inform her prose, past and present, she threads a fine line between revelation and reticence, generously exposing her most intimate feelings about the conflicts and sacrifices inherent in the need for both love and freedom, as a woman and a writer. If ever there is a book that will trigger a desire to pen one's own memoir, this is it."
-Marnie Mueller, author of My Mother's Island.
"Word for Word is a perfect title for a memoir about the hard-earned creation of a writer's life that is wrested out of the honest self-examination of a woman who faces the personal, family, class, and social forces that shaped—but did not determine—the person and writer she would become. A richly rewarding read."
-Lois Rudnick, author of Mabel Dodge Luhan: New Woman, New Worlds
"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.
-Carol Ascher, author of Afterimages: A Family Memoir
"Word for Word moves from the anxiety of day-to-day struggles to the peace of the serene gaze of memory. The book ends in the author's garden and in her memory of her mother, where the sharp ego-involved edges of family, career, and marriage conflicts she has led us through diffuse into a tranquil place of belonging and forgiveness."
-Thomas E. Hill, Art Librarian, Vassar College
"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
"A compelling account from Laurie Lisle, who rejected her New England debutante destiny, survived systemic bias against women in the journalism world of the 1960s and 1970s, and willed herself to become a writer, eventually producing the first biography of Georgia O'Keeffe, despite the artist's refusal to cooperate. Lisle's courage, independence, and determination will inspire other women."
-Gail Levin, author of Lee Krasner: A Biography