It’s tough to be ambitious and dealing with limitations.
But just because you have limitations—whether they be caregiving responsibilities, disability, chronic illness, or any other life circumstance that causes you feel fenced in—doesn’t mean you can’t go on to build resilience and a legacy.
“[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
Part of my work at The Unexpected Shape is to provide resources for ambitious people living with limitations to build resilience, excellence, and legacy. Tools designed to help writers and other creatives include Where’s the Electricity?, an acclaimed program about creating from obsessions and themes.
I’m also a woman who lives with chronic illness, including late-stage Lyme disease and schizoaffective disorder. These conditions create boundaries for my life; they also inspire me to guide and support others who are dealing with difficult times.
What is “the unexpected shape”?
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 free series of emails called Encouragement Notes, as well as entry into a supportive, thriving Facebook group made up of fascinating and resilient people of all sorts. A popular workshop from the Get Bullish conference has become a short, sweet, and effective email course, A**-Kicking with Limitations. My signature online course, Rawness of Remembering, is a much-loved program that teaches the skills needed for restorative journaling through difficult times.
What kinds of things have I done?
I’m a writer and essayist—the author of 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 have been published in places such as The Believer, Hazlitt, Lenny, Elle, Catapult, Eater, and Salon; I’ve also made appearances on NPR’s Weekend Edition, KCRW, the New York Times, the CBC, Flavorwire, and the New Yorker Online. At the moment, I’m working on The Collected Schizophrenias, a collection of essays about schizophrenia for Graywolf Press, which is the result of having won the 2016 Graywolf Nonfiction Prize.
Where can I read about your experiences with limitations and doing meaningful work?
Check out some of the following essays and Journal posts, either written by me or about me:
- I’m Chronically Ill & Afraid of Being Lazy (Elle)
- Meet Smart Girl Esmé Weijun Wang: Award Winning in Writing and Compassion (Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls)
- First-Time Author Overcomes Myriad Ailments and Still Finds Time to Help Others (New York Times, Women in the World)
- Creating a Healthy Writing Process When Your Health Doesn’t Want to Cooperate (Journal)
- You Are Not Lazy (Journal)
One last thing before you go: I recommend subscribing to my monthly letter, With Love & Squalor, which you can do at the bottom of this page. You can also find out more about With Love & Squalor right here.
Keep going. You’re doing great.
P.S. Are you wondering who I am, and/or searching for information about my literary career? Hop on over to http://www.esmewang.com/.
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