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writer as incubator, writer as huckleberry bush

I live in the middle of a vast huckleberry forest. Very much like blueberries, huckleberries grow on small bushes, wildly…and last summer, like wildfire. Their fruit is a deep, almost black, purple – the berries either explode in your mouth with sweetness, are just full of normal berry-ness or taste bitter and sour, some of them big, some very small. They grow in clumps.

And, I’m intrigued by their entire life cycle because every fall when the berries are long gone, and we’re busy praying they come back next summer, the branches of their bushes change from brown to a deep purpley red. Like the juice of the fruit to come is building up in the plants’ veins, curing and growing – like in an incubator – and waiting to erupt.

I spoke to a woman a few months ago and when I asked her what she did for work, she told me she was in the incubation business. “Me too!” I exclaimed.

“Really!” she said – thrilled to know that I was of the same ilk. “What industry?”

“I’m a writer,” I said. “So, I guess I my incubation industry is ideas…”

She laughed and said that only a writer could come up with that analogy – she is literally in the business incubation world which as far as I can tell is like Start Up heaven meets Think Tank central.

So I had to concede that I wasn’t in her incubation business – but I know that I’m in my own.

Articles, posts, stories, novels, (yes, even poems) rush into my body on a regular basis – written. I learned quickly and the hard way that if I don’t get up and write them down immediately, they will be gone (which is why I’m writing this at 5 a.m.) My incubator burns a little hot.

The image of the incubating huckleberry plant holds true for this writer…only my skin doesn’t give me away like the berry’s bark. If it did, everytime you’d see me? I’d have words, some that explode in your mouth with sweetness, some just normal, some bitter and sour, some of them big, some very small, growing in clumps and streaming through my veins.

Join the discussion 10 Comments

  • Janine says:

    I have to say that I get up when I have an idea I want to write about. Sometimes I just take notes, other times I write the whole thing down. I leave a notebook on my nightstand for just this reason. And unfortunately, most of this idea “incubation” happens in the middle of the night!

  • Anne says:

    What a lovely analogy. And, I am very jealous about your living surrounded by huckleberries.

  • Anne Mayhew says:

    Love the analogy! I can just feel you bursting with the juices for the next post, article, poem, story or novel! What do you do with the huckleberries? jelly? freeze? just eat as you pick?

  • Julie Roads says:

    Janine! Mine happens in the middle of the night too…once I had this ‘brilliant idea’ and I wrote it in my beside notebook. I woke up – couldn’t remember anything; then I realized that I had written it down…was so excited – and it was TOTALLY illegible. The worst!!!

  • Julie Roads says:

    Thanks, Anne! Eat as we pick, homemade ice cream and pancakes. Can’t wait until next summer!

  • Elisabeth von Halem says:

    Just yesterday we were talking about the expression “Huckleberry friend” – I think the expression was in a song – and today you talk about Huckleberries on your blog! Coincidence? I think not. I love reading your posts and everyone’s responses to them. Hope we connect soon!

  • --Deb says:

    Really, I’m hard-put to find a BETTER description of the writing process than incubating.

    Oh, and my handwriting is bad enough in daylight hours, I can’t imagine what it would be like at 3:00 am…

  • Sandra Foyt says:

    Love this! Traveling with my family right now, but I’m busily “incubating” as well, with my trusty notebook at my side. Writing, you can take it anywhere!

  • Sue says:

    Great analogy! I missed this when you posted it initially, but I really like your perspective on incubation, and it really is similar to what we do, right down to waking up in the middle of the night to capture ideas.

    I use a digital audio recorder for that, though, since my handwriting is illegible most of the time.

    Too, businesses, start ups especially, need writers and creatives just as much as they need strategic planning and coaching. It’s the rare entrepreneur who can do it all, which is why we specialize in a team process instead of the traditional brick & mortar walled garden incubator.

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