Hello, I’m Nicki Hastie. I was born in Hereford, UK in 1969. A quote from Shakespeare’s Hamlet made quite an impression on me in my early years. It was written by a teacher in my autograph book on the event of leaving primary school. It probably helped that both my parents grew up in Stratford-upon-Avon, so I was no stranger to Shakespeare’s name.
To thine own self be true
Thou can’st not then be false to any man.
There are (at least) two reasons for this appearing so significant:
- From the age of 11, I had an inkling that I wanted to do an English degree.
- As a young teenager, I was increasingly attracted to women, and from the age of 16 began the process of coming out as a lesbian to myself, my friends and family.
Much of my research and published writings focus on coming out stories, lesbian fiction and representations of lesbians in popular culture. Poetry, however, is my favourite form for personal expression. I submit poems to printed journals as well as taking an increasing interest in poetry as performance.
The diaries and poems I wrote as a teenager sparked my enduring interest in autobiographical story-telling and the ways in which reading/writing can become routes for exploring/building identity. I almost went further down the “academic” pathway exploring this theme. However, I remain certain that one of the best decisions I ever made was to give up a PhD after two years of study. This taught me: follow your instincts and never be afraid to recreate yourself.
This hasn’t stopped me from being proud of the work I produced in the academic genre. You can read samples of these essays and dissertations on this site.
Another theme which runs through my online writing is that I enjoy constructing poetry with magnetic word tiles. You can see an animated example – ‘Eating Out’ – in my multimedia studio. I’m also fascinated by memoir writing and the different forms this takes.
I had a working life before Nottingham, but I’ve now lived in Nottingham for 25 years. So let’s start there. Between 1995 and 2004 I worked in the voluntary sector for a number of women’s and health-related projects, including Nottingham Women’s Centre and Self Help Nottingham (now Self Help UK) – two charities which do a lot of good work and deserve more support. I then moved my information management and relationship-building skills into the university sector. I worked in the Development and Alumni Relations Office (DARO) at Nottingham Trent University until December 2014, when I moved on to Loughborough University to become Head of Analytics and Operations in the DARO team there until June 2016.
Now we’re in 2021 and I’m in the midst of further re-creation, having taken quite an internal journey in the last few years. Since October 2016, I’ve been back in Nottingham’s voluntary sector, now working as Communications and Data Officer at Nottingham CVS.
Life may not begin at 40, but self-belief and understanding can arrive for one’s mid-to-late forties, and beyond, if you’re prepared to give yourself a chance. It took me a long while to recognise my experiences of depression and anxiety. I am involved with mental health activism and put my creativity to use with Depression Expression.
I’m now firmly into my fifties. I wouldn’t say settled into them. I don’t know what begins at 50. It could be perimenopause!
The last five years, especially, have also involved a journey of recognition and discovery of my neurodivergent identity. What I mean by that is something I’m working up to writing about.
Want to know even more?
Plenty more of my musings and sources of inspiration were once available at the collaborative Woman-Stirred blog. I spent a good deal of my time there from 2005 to 2008 with some dear American friends. However, the online world is, by its nature, ever evolving and sometimes transitory. It is possible for whole swathes of one’s history to evaporate with changing tides and relationships. I wouldn’t have chosen this deletion, but some would say I look back too much. We are always moving forward. See my commentary on this: Lost and Found: the importance of archiving for personal and cultural memory.
These days I’m a member of Nottingham Writers’ Studio. I hope to participate there even more in future with different groups of equally inspiring and creative friends.