Interview with Esmé Weijun Wang
Photo by Kristen Cofer.
As I wrap up designing the second volume of Many Moons this week—it goes to the printer Thursday!—I want to highlight the wonderful contributors to this edition.
I've been an admirer of Esmé Weijun Wang's for a long time. She's a brilliant writer, entrepreneur, and has fantastic style. As an ambitious creative living with a serious chronic illness, I am also incredibly inspired and heartened whenever Esmé shares her own process with her serious illness on her Instagram. Those shares give me hope, and make me feel less alone. When she agreed to write a piece on celebrating September's New Moon for the workbook I was overjoyed. Below is an interview with the wonderful and lovely Esmé Weijun Wang!
I'm incredibly touched by all that you share of your life on-line. Has sharing always come naturally to you?
Sort of—I had a LiveJournal in the early 00s, and personal websites before that, and personal zines before that in the 90s; still, I wasn't particularly open about my issues with mental illness until I was in my mid- to late-20s. My transparency has followed from there. It's just as important for me to know what not to share, though. I do keep a good deal private.
You are a professional, awarded writer. For you, is it ever painful to write? To tell your story? What are the ultimate gifts there?
I write essays, novels, and the occasional short story. All of those things are challenging in their own ways; I've become physically sick from writing difficult scenes in both fiction and nonfiction. And yet writing is one of the greatest gifts in my life. It helps me to shape what is an often frightening and overly amorphous world.
Who was an initial mentor and/or inspiration to you and your creative life?
I was heavily inspired by the authors who came to my elementary school's yearly Author's Fair. I can't remember the names of any of them, but they represented to me from an early age that it was possible for a person to be a writer.
I find few people who talk about their chronic illness publicly. You do. You seem to weave into your other shares naturally and fluidly. (Even though I know, from personal experience, it is hard, complicated—decidedly not "fluid".) Does it ever get easier? Could you discuss a tip or a few ways that someone living with a chronic, serious illness/disability/disease can cope?
Does it ever get easier... Yes and no, particularly because chronic illness tends to ebb and flow and flare. But I've developed ways of living with chronic illness, including a highly regular journaling practice. I have a class on my website at theunexpectedshape.com, called Rawness of Remembering: Restorative Journaling Through Difficult Times, that teaches everything I know about journaling when times are hard. One tip is to take detailed notes about therapy or counseling sessions, if you're able to have access to therapy. I go more in-depth in the class about how exactly to make therapy notes, but I do highly recommend jotting those insights down before they're forgotten.
What is your favorite moon phase, and why?
The New Moon, for sure. I love beginnings.
What was your experience writing for the book, what do you hope that readers take away from this project, or your piece?
I hope people might find a way to feel more connected to their bodies, regardless of their current relationships with their bodies. I find it essential to have a regular moon practice, and feel lucky to be a part of Many Moons.
Name one thing: writer/poet/singer/park/theory/hair product etc. that you are super jazzed on at the moment.
I'm currently reading Under the Udala Trees, by Chinelo Okparanta, and am really loving it so far. I also met Chinelo at a few events this week—we were both recently given a literary honor—and was delighted by her fashion sense. So I might say I'm super jazzed on her and her work right now.
The files for the workbook go to press on Thursday! This is a limited edition item; it always sells out. Order now to insure you will have a copy of Many Moons: July-December 2017.