No TV, No Regrets

One of the best things I have done in the past year, without a doubt, is to give up having a TV. When I moved to my new apartment just before lockdown no.1 I decided to do without one. I have not looked back or regretted a single minute of it.

Sometimes people go a bit quiet when I tell them this. I admit, there was a time when if someone I knew said they didn’t watch TV I thought they were a bit boring or odd. If they didn’t know about the latest TV shows or watch the news, what did they do with their evenings?

My timing as it happened was excellent. As the UK went into lockdown, I broke free of the daily COVID briefings, the figures, the charts, the daily doom. I’d dip in to see what was happening via the Internet then break free back into my own world again. Instead of worrying and fretting, I read more and began to write again. My head clear of the daily jargon and politics, I could concentrate on things that I could change, not the things I could not. Suddenly I was working more productively and feeling much stronger and happier.

That isn’t to say I didn’t watch anything, I still have Netflix on my Mac and I would watch an episode of whatever took my fancy once or twice a week but I didn’t feel that slave like draw to switch on the TV at the end of the day. It’s an amazing freedom. I honestly thought I’d cave in after six months but here I am, still enjoying the lack of a big black box in my living room. The living room is more aesthetically pleasing without it too.

It has been a year where I’ve been able to produce a book, take more photographs (albeit only very locally), learn how to code (a little), read non-fiction (not usual for me), learned the rudiments of sailing, and I’ve rediscovered a passion for cooking. Plus I’m fitter because I used my bike more. Instead of slumping in front of a TV, I took to two wheels to spin around the city in the evening. I meditate a few times a week and have increased my repertoire of yoga poses (no I’m not going to show you).

Not once did I miss anything or feel ill informed because I don’t have a television. My only regret is that I didn’t give it up years ago.

In other news, a few people have asked if I based my first story – The Clap, in The Isolation Sex Stories on myself just because I live in an apartment now and the main character lives in an apartment. The answer is a definite NO! I did use living in an apartment block as inspiration but that, I can assure you, is as far as it goes. I can sympathise with the character but in addition to all my other new healthy living behaviours, not a drop of alcohol passed my lips for around two months. Having said that, I’m not quite so saintly now…

The Isolation Sex Stories

The Eight of Swords

The Putsi

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The Creative Mind

Good evening and welcome to today’s blog post. If I sound a little like the late David Frost I make no apology!

Jack Frost (completely different character) has been nipping at us all for the last few days and while I enjoy being out on frosty bright days, I’m not so sure about the aches the cold brings.

During the first lockdown I disciplined myself into daily yoga sessions via YouTube (I can recommend Adrienne) but that was summer and now the mornings are colder and darker so I have to fight with myself to get up. At the moment I am winning again but that is after a couple of months of lagging in the exercise stakes.

Happily I live in an apartment that has very impressive sound proofing so if I want to dance to loud music, no one complains. Exercise has been incredibly important in keeping my mind focused, as has meditation. If you haven’t tried meditation before I heartily recommend it. During the more stressful times in lockdown (like when my mum ended up in a Covid ward for a week although thankfully she wasn’t suffering from it, just displaying symptoms), I relied on daily meditations to get me through. I don’t do them so often now but I should, it especially helps when writing and your mind is jam packed with ideas.

My daily blog posts are going to be a mixture of how my self publishing is going and day to day writing, publishing, photography and sketching adventures. Of course I am going to be mentioning the pandemic but I will try to focus on the lighter side of everyday living with Covid-19 floating around us in its weird and threatening invisible aura. We all know the dark side, so I don’t need to dwell on that.

You see I mentioned photography and sketching as well as the writing and publishing above. I am also a photographer and I like to sketch when I can. My Grandfather, who was a far superior artist to me in every way, used to love to sketch everyday folk and I have picked that up genetically from him I guess. As it happens, the sketches will work well with my new book of short stories so I will use them to illustrate them.

My blog posts will also feature some of my photography, street photography is what I suppose some would call ‘a guilty pleasure,’ which it is in some ways but capturing people unawares is the only way to make sure their expressions are completely natural. I think I am a kind shooter, I don’t take advantage, I simply document characters and life on the street as I see it. There you go, this is only my second blog post and I am already letting out my dark secrets. Check out my images via @ZingleEye on Instagram.

My characters are completely fictional. I’m lucky in that I have had many jobs and the varied businesses I have worked in have featured all sorts of different characters so while none of my characters are ever based on anyone in particular, I suppose my subconscious computes personality traits and behaviours which then go on to become fully formed fictional beings who you can empathize or identify with in some way. At least I hope so.

I’ll write more about how my characters evolve another time.

Like most creative types I guess, I easily get distracted. I can be walking along thinking about a story and the next minute I am transfixed by a scene that I want to photograph or I might see someone who would make a good sketch or I see through a window and imagine the lives of the people within. Ideas come all the time and one of the big problems I have in life is filtering them and trying to choose which to pursue. Having so many ideas can be both a blessing and on occasion a curse.

The other side of me is that I am pretty practical. My head may be full of ideas and imaginings but I am able to do a bit of plumbing when it’s needed, cut hair, change the oil in a car, cook, bake or create a piece of jewellery – all a bit random but that’s me. If I don’t know how to do something I’m all for finding out how to do it rather than relying on someone else (which of course has to happen from time to time). In fact, I should pass more jobs on to others but my curiosity usually gets the better of me. I don’t see myself as a Jack of all trades and master of none but more a curious human.

This is what happened in the summer. When I had an idea for a book (as it happens not the short stories this time) I decided to learn a publishing program and I am still learning as I go.

My blog post tomorrow will focus (hey get me, I’m going to focus on something) on character creation and I will tell you how The Eight of Swords and The Putsi came about.

7pm, don’t be late!

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Please feel free to comment, ask questions and tell me what you are up to, wherever you are in the world, it’s a great time to connect.

Introducing Petra Kidd (Again)

Well hello, it’s been quite some time since I blogged, so thank you for visiting to see what I have to say.

Nearly ten years ago I published The Eight of Swords and The Putsi and posted on this site pretty regularly but life got in the way, I had a business that needed my full attention and my mother certainly needed it too.

Then I moved into a business which demanded less of me physically and thanks to Covid-19 (it has to be good for something) I got my writing bug back again and spent the first lockdown writing a new book of short stories.

I’ve always been fascinated by people and how they deal with certain situations, if you read The Eight of Swords you will meet Jayne Patchett who has a very tricky situation to deal with. When you read it, you are bound to ask yourself how you would react if you were her.

When Covid-19 turned up without much warning and presented us all with a whole new and unprecedented way of living this reminded me very much of The Eight of Swords, but in this case all our worlds were turned upside down, not just the life of one woman (although her drama proved comparatively brief).

I moved into a new riverside apartment just a couple of days before the first lockdown. Luckily I didn’t have much to move as I downsized. Suddenly life became much calmer, more peaceful and the simplicity of my modern apartment seeped into me. Instead of having to race around I could reflect, I had time to think and observe the city around me uncluttered with people. While I am a social person, I am also very happy alone and in my own space so this new way of living did not particularly frighten or concern me.

Having said that, I am not only responsible for myself, I have an elderly mother who has a multitude of health conditions to care for and during the first lockdown I suspended her care agency and looked after her full time myself for three months. Although I’d already spent a fair amount of time with her, caring for her all the time brought a routine that probably helped me cope with the weird way the outer world was transmogrifying.

I started to write a diary, the kind of diary where thoughts simply pour out of your head from your daily observations. It became a kind of therapy and I couldn’t go to sleep without having written down the days happenings. The realization that we are all living through a pandemic that will become a part of the history books made me think of future generations of my family and how they will want to know what it was like first hand from the people who actually lived through it. My Aunty Maureen wrote about her experiences in the war and I had only recently read her notes and this inspired me to write about lockdown and Covid-19 so that my great nephews and future great great nieces and nephews will have first hand experience of a family member going through it all.

The diary isn’t what I am going to publish (well not for now). The diary led me to muse upon what might be going on behind all the closed doors I passed on my lockdown exercise walks and cycle rides and my imagination went into overdrive and created twelve new short stories.

As it has been many years since I last self-published I am going to take you with me, you are very welcome to join me on this latest literary adventure. Whether you are an avid reader or a writer yourself it might interest you to know a little about the process as I go through it again.

My next blog post will be tomorrow at 7pm so please subscribe to make it easier for you to read my updates and to find out more about the new short story book launch.

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Please feel free to comment, ask questions and tell me what you are up to, wherever you are in the world, it’s a great time to connect.

’Til tomorrow…