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 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.

I hope to help you here with a variety of resources: I offer a series of emails called Encouragement Notes, which are encouraging and uplifting and totally free of charge. I attempt to make work that brings delight to readers and viewers alike. That hopefully includes you.

To dig in further to my work for ambitious people living with limitations, I recommend exploring THE SHOP.

Award-winning author
New York Times bestseller
Redefining ambition
Teacher & speaker & founder

The10-Day MFA

I’m bringing all of my learnings and first-hand experience to bear to host my first on-demand class designed to springboard you right into working on your book, essays, or Substack posts: The 10-Day MFA.  Now available for paid subscribers of The Unexpected Shape Newsletter. 

learn more here

as seen in:

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.

sign up for my newsletter

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

Sign up to receive The Unexpected Shape, my love letters to you.

Receive missives from me, Esmé, about being a working writer, the importance of beauty, and how limitations shape my own life. You'll find out before anyone else when I have an announcement to make about the Academy or any other creation. And, when you sign up, you'll also get my free Notion Template for Writers.