THE UNEXPECTED shape™ writing academy

Award-winning author

New York Times bestseller

Redefining ambition

Teacher & speaker & founder of an

Online writing school

I’m a writer. My essay collection, The Collected Schizophrenias, was a New York Times bestseller; its publication is the result of having won the 2016 Graywolf Nonfiction Prize. My debut novel, The Border of Paradise, has received accolades and kind words from places such as LitHub, NPR Books, and the Chicago Review of Books; I was selected by Granta for their once-a-decade Best of Young American Novelists list of 21 authors under 40. In 2018 I received the prestigious Whiting Award for Nonfiction. I write essays that have been published in the Believer, Catapult, Hazlitt, and Salon. Finally, my short story, “What Terrible Thing It Was,” was featured in the Best American Short Stories 2018 anthology.

I’m also the founder of The Unexpected Shape™ Writing Academy, which is a full-service online writing school for people with limitations who want to write memoir and/or personal nonfiction. We've had phenomenal guest lecturers like T Kira Madden, Hanif Abdurraqib, and Leslie Jamison, and our students have gone on to nab book deals and publish in top-tier publications.

The One-Day Writing Kickstart

Feeling stuck with your writing? Is it truly difficult these days to get into the flow? The One-Day Writing Kickstart (a new Academy Essentials class) is on pre-sale for 20% off NOW until June 27.

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work with me

Write the book you’ve always wanted to without "overcoming" your limitations.

The Unexpected Shape Writing Academy 

We’re the online writing school for personal nonfiction & memoir writers who live with limitations such as chronic illness and disability, founded by myself, Esmé Weijun Wang, Whiting Award winner & New York Times-bestselling author of The Collected Schizophrenias.

We’re a full-fledged online writing school—with all of the seminars and high-quality curriculum that entails—that builds in support for ambitious, marginalized writers.

Eight recorded class modules taught by me, Esmé Weijun Wang, as well as brilliant writers like Leslie Jamison, Soleil Ho, Hanif Abdurraqib, and T Kira Madden. Co-writing sessions so that you won’t be writing alone, but with your fellow students. Chatting and sharing on Discord with your cohort. Monthly group coaching calls with me about whatever questions you have.

And in The Academy, you’ll skyrocket your skills on the journey to whatever your dreams are: publishing a bestselling book, connecting with underrepresented readers, and/or leaving a literary legacy. 

speaking engagements

I believe in eliminating the stigma around mental health so that we can create better policies and be kinder to others (and ourselves).

I believe in redefining ambition to better include people living with limitations like chronic illness and disability.

Princeton University
USC Gould Law School
Portland Book Festival
Zarrow Keynote
Starbucks Coffee Talk




Trinity Ray, The Tuesday Agency
Office: 319-338-7080 • Mobile: 319-400-9031


"Storytellers are a threat. They threaten all champions of control, they frighten usurpers of the right-to-freedom of the human spirit—in state, in church or mosque, in party congress, in the university or wherever."

read my

short stories

Have your fill of essays, articles, short stories, and books that I've written over the years.


A Life in Banquets (Bon Appetit)

Peony (short story) (McSweeney's)

An Interview with Andrew Garfield (The Believer)

Revere (short story) (Lenny)

I'm Chronically Ill & Afraid of Being Lazy (Elle)

Love & squalor

Receive regular love notes from me, including 5 Words (five interesting words), Terrific Links, and musings on gay holiday movies, childhood myths, which cereals to avoid, my favorite cardigans—AND MORE, including a FREE Notion Template for Writers.

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Free Notion Template for Writers

Do you want to keep your writing life organized? Does the idea of using yet another Excel spreadsheet or Google doc (why, oh why do they have to be so inherently hideous) make you want to pull your hair out by the roots? Stay inspired and on top of things with this free Notion template for writers.

If you're into vintage clothing, books books books, daily moodboards, film photography, and everyday beauty? You've come to the right place. 

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Receive missives from me, Esmé, about the things on my mind and the projects on which I'm working. And, when you sign up, you'll also get my free Notion Template for Writers.