Inspiration: The Paths Taken

Two roads diverged in a wood…
–Robert Frost,
The Road Not Taken

I find paths winding through the wood irresistible. Not that I go charging down every one I see on a whim, mind you, but the image of that path stays with me for a long time. They call to me with the voice of the past, luring me away from the loud, crowded, connected present to the quiet, expansive solitude of a time long gone.

Paths like this appeal to my sense of adventure. (My husband is now snorting water out his nose as he reads this, because I am, shall we say, less than adventurous in my travels.) But the adventure of wooded paths is one of the imagination, not just geography. As my feet follow the pathway, I wonder about those who have gone before. Who were they? Why were they here? What were their lives like? What trials did they face? What triumphs did they celebrate? What were their stories?

Paths like this inspire me; they fire my imagination. They bring me a welcome release from the hectic pace of the normal world. They allow me to breathe, to be quiet, to think—to feel. Where they lead me to physically is almost irrelevant. But most times, I get the added gift of vistas like these: 

How can I pass up a path when it leads to a reward like that? And how can I as a writer help but get new ideas when a path leads to a house like this:

What’s it like to live in a house only accessible via water? It must cut down on unwanted visitors, that’s for certain!

The other day I drove past a wooded area. At one point two pillars stood. Once a gate—I picture wrought iron—had stood between them, but now one pillar lay half-toppled and a large branch blocked the way between them. Beyond the pillars stretched a path between the trees. Yellow and orange leaves lay thick on it, covering it and reclaiming it for the woods that surrounded it.

It called to me, but I could not follow it…that day.

I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

–Robert Frost, The Road Not Taken


  1. I too am a sucker for a path – any path, but especially a new one. To a fault.

    I’ve spent my life saying “Yes.” Again, often to a fault. But an inventory of the finds and friends I’ve made along the way quickly erase any twinge of regret that might come with the occasional path I might’ve, perhaps, been wise to ignore.

    • I hear you, Don! Sometimes the paths we should have ignored are the ones that we learn the most from in the end. And I am very glad our paths crossed all those years ago.

      • That’s a great example, Kerry.

        I’ve often thought about telling the story of my path to here, that is, the confluence of random circumstances that ultimately led to the decision I made to attend an open salon at the old Bucks County Writers Room back in April of 2005 where I met Jonathan Maberry – and mayhem ensued.

        It wasn’t until more than a year later that you and I crossed paths – again – after I made the decision to throw my hat into the Master Class Book Project ring, survive two rounds of cuts, then pick a random slip of paper out of that hat to wind up on the same team as you. I still have that slip of paper, and have a successful career born of the material I researched for that project.

        Yeah, I’m a big believer in taking the path less traveled.

  2. Kerry, I love those pictures! During the summer, I’ve been known to take some walks to get inspiration. I took notes but did not think to take photos. The old saw about a picture being worth a thousand words is right.

    • Popple – Getting a digital camera let loose my inner photographer! And I think when you’ve got a little one you’re more likely to have a camera with you and use it. All those pics were from places I went with my husband and baby girl. I often forget to take my camera when it’s just me out there, and so often wish I had it!

  3. As always, your writing is the photos, too.

  4. Keith Strunk says

    I also have to smile at the seeming randomness of how paths cross when I read Don’s response. It’s hard to imagine my life without people like Jonathan, Don, you, and all the other Social Tsunamists from the Master Class Book Project that have so influenced me and guided me as I’ve reshaped my career. That path has enriched my life and has indeed “made all the difference.”

    I also love the idea of imagination being a lovely tangle of paths filled with stories and characters and all manner of strangeness. As usual, your writing provokes the mind and tickles the senses.

    • Thanks, Keith! The Social Tsunamists greatly influenced me, as well – it was the first time I really felt like maybe I was “good enough” to do this writing thing.

  5. I love the pictures so much. I wish I could go to them right this moment. I get so much of my inspiration from scenes like this. Riding on the back of my husbands motorcycle lets my imagination fly and when I see the wooded areas I always think of the stories inside. 😉


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