Dancing DNA

By Linda Kleczkowski, In Print Newsletter Editor/Website Administrator

I don’t know about you but my most persistent block to any kind of creative project I think about undertaking is my own brain; You’re a technical writer, you’re not artistic. Where did you get the idea that you were creative? Give it up, will you, you’re not creative you’re just weird.

A very talented friend recently loaned me a fabulous book entitled The Creative Habit written by the world famous choreographer Twyla Tharp. I am not even half way through the book and already it has stirred up memories, emotions, and reflections. The part of the book that has had the most poignant effect on me so far (and because this is the D installment of my ABC blog post challenge) is one Tharp calls “Your Creative DNA”. Tharp believes that everyone is born with creative potential, that it is “hard-wired into our imaginations”. She calls this our “creative code” and believes that it is as engrained in our genetic code as the color of our eyes or hair (before Lady Clairol of course).

At one point in this chapter, Tharp offers a questionnaire with the intended purpose of helping the reader understand their own creative DNA. It is a lengthy piece that I have yet to complete but it was the very first question that started me on a roller coaster of personal rediscovery. Tharp asks “What is the first creative moment you remember?” Since I am in a writer’s frame of mind, I immediately think of the teenage angst-filled poems that I used to write in high school. Talk about vapid and depressing, but it felt natural, compelling, the only way for me to deal with some of those confusing emotions.


Right behind that memory though came a cascade of younger versions of myself in various creative endeavors:

  • Painting a lion’s magnificently maned head on the back of an army fatigue jacket that I used to wear (after watching the movie Born Free I became obsessed with lions)
  • Pathetic attempt at artEndlessly sketching little facial profiles with overteased hair (see pathetic photo)
  • Performing as Carmen (complete with plastic rose between my teeth) in a third grade drama class
  • Dancing in my garage with the big double door open as if I were on stage with the curtain up
  • wurlitzer electric pianoHours spent at our little Wurlitzer electric piano working out melodies by ear

Wow! I had forgotten all my adolescent attempts at artistic expression. Before I knew it, though life set in and I had to start thinking of supporting myself. Without any formal artistic training the creative side of me fell by the wayside. I became a grownup. A laundry list of unsatisfying jobs, a stint in the Air Force to gain SOME kind of marketable skill, many rewarding years spent as a mom (which takes all KINDS of creativity), I could go on but I won’t bore you. What I found though was that I couldn’t escape from my creative DNA, any more than I could deny my taste in music or the types of stories that interest me. My creativity kept bubbling up to the surface, asking me to play with it, teach it, honor it.

This simple little trip down memory lane is changing the way I look at myself. I’m beginning to feel that I’m not a creative wannabe, as my internal critic would have me believe, but rather that I have been running from my creative code all my life. I need to stop running. I am fortunate that my muse has not yet tired of trying to engage me but she may not have infinite patience. Tharpe also writes in her book about having or developing rituals that you instill with psychic relevance to prepare yourself for entry into the creative mindset. I haven’t discovered any precise rituals yet but I am working on it.

Are you running from your creative DNA as well? What is the first creative thing that YOU remember doing?

What inspires you now?

This blog is my fourth in the series complying with the In Print ABC Blog Post Challenge.