The howls erupt around 9:30 p.m., shattering the quiet, moon-dark night. At first only a rumor, they swiftly crescendo, filling Beck Park with primal music. Drawn by the increasing urgency of the calls, I step onto the porch and listen, shaking with my own primitive knowledge that what sings out there is wild and dangerous and poses a threat. Then, abruptly, like a spigot turned off, the song ceases. In the ensuing stillness, my heart resumes a normal beat.

What ritual have I just observed? Perhaps this was an autumnal call to worship, a nature song acknowledging their kind. Maybe they were sharing the wild night rhythms of their pack. Or maybe they had just brought down a deer and the feast required a celebratory howl. Whatever drew them to the frenzy, the resulting chorus reminds me that the wild is only a heartbeat away.

Each artist finds her own path to that deep well of creative howling. For me, it is proximity to the natural world that draws out the elements of story. Daily walks through the very fields where the coyotes rampaged last night allow me to touch the beating heart of our earth. As I wander past the undergrowth beside the stream, my boots slipping over dew-drenched grasses or crunching leaves, I imagine those feral eyes following my path, evaluating my food quotient, judging me as dangerous or fair game. The unknown scurries among the tangles of underbrush, the caws from the treetops, the occasional leap of a deer from the brush warn me of the wildness lying in wait among the hills.

I embrace the danger. My mind clears itself of clutter, returning to a purer state where there is only me and the natural world. Following this, my own ritual path on the way to that deepest portion of my soul, I look, listen and open myself to the creative mood.

Your writing path may not follow this wilderness walk. Perhaps your ideas arrive best surrounded by the comfort of coffee, the chatter of the masses, the industrial grinding of mechanical gears. So be it. But if you have not yet discovered a way to turn on your own spigot of creativity, I recommend the solitary path through forest and field. Find your own space where the wild awaits, ready to draw us into an embrace, and the creative juice is waiting to be imbibed. You may find your own howling chorus needs only the nudge of nature to unleash its fury.