I’m Vidya Viswanathan and I’m a pediatrician and writer. I built this site as a hub for my writing.
I’m originally from New York (important clarification: Long Island), but I live in Philadelphia now (my only sports allegiance being to Gritty), with my husband and our twin toddlers. I’m working on my dream of writing a novel about the idiosyncrasies of modern American medicine and the experiences of female physicians of color as they navigate it.
I’ve always been a writer. I was the kid who hand-wrote made-up stories in a journal in elementary school, who quietly created uproar via investigative journalism for my high school newspaper, who went to local town meetings for my college paper, and kept a blog for my summers in China and my year in Taiwan. From 2015 to 2022, I ran a website and organization focused on creativity in medicine, called Doctors Who Create. As you’ll see on this site, my published writing is mostly a mix of personal essays and long-form journalism about medicine. I thought I would eventually take my writing in the direction of, say, Atul Gawande—expounding think pieces or nonfiction books about issues within medicine, that could have real impact.
But there was a problem with that kind of writing, for me. Writing what was true, in residency, felt overwhelming. I was already living it, during the pandemic, and drowning in it. But writing a reality only I could come up with? That seemed, somehow, more accessible. It could still have real impact and convey what I wanted. And—this is why I keep doing it—it gave me a sense of hope, for a different narrative in healthcare. One that could reflect and celebrate diversity of identity.
I owe a large part of my current fiction writing interests in equal parts to my Philly writers’ group, my kids, and my mom. First, my writers’ group welcomed me in despite me only meeting them over Zoom for most of 2021. Our monthly meetings are a highlight, giving me time with the best personalities, criticism, and stories in the biz. Second, when I was pregnant with my son and daughter, the prospect of being a first-time mom to twins made me nervous that I would never have time to write again. That’s why I signed up for my first-ever fiction writing class (at Blue Stoop, a home for Philly Writers), during the second trimester of my pregnancy. This was in the dead of winter during my intern year of residency, so I had absolutely no time for it, but I ignored that. I thought I would never have time after the twins were born, so this was the only time. But just like I didn’t really know anything about parenting until after they were born, I didn’t know that when you have kids, the scraps of free time you do have are even more valuable, which means you use that time wisely. (Sometimes. Sometimes you watch TV in zombie mode). So the fact that I still wanted to use that time to write made me realize it was worth it. And third, my mom. She read all my stories growing up. She found all the best library books when I was a kid and read them with me. She saved all my newspaper articles in a clippings folder, organized like an ad hoc archivist. She’s a great storyteller, the fastest reader (though sometimes she cheats, and flips to the end of an Agatha Christie book she’s just started), and the warmest character.
So that’s why I write. I hope to keep this site updated with my latest writing. Also, sorry: I am a notorious em-dash user—please forgive me!
You can contact me at vidyavis[at]gmail[dot]com or on twitter @vidyavis
Feel free to browse my previous work on this site; I’ll continue to add new pieces as I work on my longer projects.
Thanks for reading!