2015 was a year that shaped me.

Distilling that year sums to two major events: I sold my debut novel, The Border of Paradise (Unnamed Press); I was diagnosed, after several years of illness, with late-stage Lyme disease—a diagnosis that I would later question, but that seemed to explain the extreme physical symptoms that I was suffering, and would continue to suffer for many years.

The beginning of my career as an emerging writer therefore dovetailed with the realization that my life was to be full of new challenges. As someone living with chronic illness and schizoaffective disorder, my life became constrained by limitations that immediately butted up against the desires of my ferociously ambitious self.

The “unexpected shape” that I refer to is the shape that our lives take when we realize the boundaries that exist around it.

Our lives can look beautiful within that shape; though discovering our limitations can be disconcerting, achieving success while living with limitations isn’t impossible.

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.

You can also find me as the founder of The Unexpected Shape™ Writing Academy, which is a full-service online writing school for people with limitations who want to write 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.

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

The Basics

What kinds of things have you done?

I’m a writer and essayist—the author of the New York Times-bestselling essay collection The Collected Schizophrenias (2019), as well as the novel The Border of Paradise (2016), which was named one of NPR’s Best Books of 2016 and one of Electric Literature’s Top 25 Novels of 2016; I was selected by Granta for their once-a-decade Best of Young American Novelists list of 21 authors under 40. I’ve also made appearances on the Today Show, NPR’s Weekend Edition, KCRW, the New York Times, the CBC, Flavorwire, and the New Yorker Online.

What I'm 


Notion. Salty plum powder. Spring in Taiwan. Live theater. The curious feeling of wonder. BBQs. Bar karaoke. Fountain pens. Carol. Raw oysters. Long phone calls with my BFF. 

What I'm 


Beloved. The Haunting of Hill House. Lolita. His Dark Materials. Babel. Gilead. Rebecca. Whatever book I'm considering blurbing at the moment. Some kind of decidedly predictable mystery/thriller that I nonetheless enjoy.

What I'm 

listening to

The Softies. The Decemberists. The Rondelles. Bikini Kill. Nicholas Britell. Atticus Ross & Trent Rexnor soundtracks. Podcasts all the time: Normal Gossip, Love to See It & Rich Text, Ruined!, and more.

assorted facts

I'm a Gemini Sun and a Capricorn rising, a 4 on the Enneagram, and an INFJ according to Myers-Briggs. I used to be voice actor for educational DVDs, which I did after becoming a regular on a children's TV show. A Taiwanese dramatic miniseries was created about my grandmother, who is now deceased.





"[Esmé Weijun Wang] finds light in her daily quest to help others create, despite the limitations they may face."

— New York Times, Women in the World

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


Freebie Freebie Freebie


Grab my free Notion template to stay inspired and keep track of word count, submissions, research, and even the Pomodoro technique 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. 

Take the "Which Essay Structure Is Right For Me?"Quiz

Have a gander at our quick quiz that will help you to explore which essay structure might fit best for you and your idea.