Meet Jan Bozarth
STORIES & INSIGHTS OCTOBER 20, 2022
We recently connected with Jan Bozarth and have shared our conversation below.
Jan, appreciate you joining us today. Can you open up about a risk you’ve taken – what it was like taking that risk, why you took the risk and how it turned out? In the beginning of my career I chose a path that wasn’t really a path but a faint voice of something in the distance. When I had my kids I was working in the recording industry. Music was a foundational element for me but the business itself did not work well with motherhood. So I found myself in another area of entertainment, the movie business. To continue my passion for music, I crafted a space for it in the lives of my children and the family home-an organic expression of how I wanted to raise my boys. I followed my vision, put my three boys in Suzuki music training and proceeded to unfold the path for music for young people in real time. I learned along with them and started developing projects that always included music- The Real Children’s Theatre of Texas, Tribes Music Program for At-Risk Youth, and a long run at writing music for girls’games. I found that I was a pretty good song writer thanks to my esteemed collaborators. I licensed my songs but found that my joy was not only in the creating of music but in the execution of stories with music at heart. I always said that my big projects were just an elaborate plan to write more songs. Eventually I branched out to become a writer of books and a producer of all kinds of media for kids. The risk? When there’s no obvious path, you are always hearing “show me” from everyone. That makes me a lifelong risk taker.
Jan, love having you share your insights with us. Before we ask you more questions, maybe you can take a moment to introduce yourself to our readers who might have missed our earlier conversations?I am a writer/producer. ( Mattel, Disney Imagineers, Simon & Shuster, Random House Kids, Dora the Explorer, Clueless, Girl Games and more) That title has meant different things over my thirty years in the entertainment business though. I have followed the arc of the technology ( analog to digital-games to web3) and entertainment content distribution ( Movie Studios to Record Companies to Indie direct to consumer). Through the years my north star was always the nurturing of creative young people, especially young teens and girls. Like most artists, I care deeply about what I create as well as the people who consume it. It’s easy to get sucked into fame-seeking. It is harder to nurture and grow a life-long career in the arts. I have had as many failures as successes. What I am most proud of are the generations of kids I mentored who grew up and became artists themselves. People need role models for a career that requires a tough skin and a hard-core dream seeker mentality. I have lived through many types of “new tech” and am proud to have been and still be a risk-taker in how to use technology to push the envelope of my craft. These days I am embracing WEB3, NFT’s, AR, UnReal, and storytelling across formats. My newest company- Aventurine Studio One- is developing my 8 books into AR games, avatar fashion, and 3D streamed music performances in the metaverse.
What do you think is the goal or mission that drives your creative journey?Inherent in everything I write is the search for meaning from within. Sometimes this goes against the grain for many brands that focus only on outer expressions. It is my experience that if approached with respect, youth will rise to the ideas and bring forth so much more. My particular goal is to speak the languages of music, art, and fashion to a young audience who deeply cares about things like family, friends, social justice, mental wellness and the natural world. All of my stories have these elements in their DNA. With my Aventurine Franchise, I am storytelling across forms like games, music, digital fashion, user generated content, and at last the traditional platform of books. My goal is to tell the kinds of stories that can inspire preteen and young teens through their personal journey to become more courageous in their expression of themselves in the real world.
In your view, what can society to do to best support artists, creatives and a thriving creative ecosystem?Society can start to value artists beyond commerial interests. Creatives are bringing forth the unseen, the unknown, and untold stories. The Creative Economy is not just a commodity, it is a social movement! And it is so exciting to see the tools for young artists’ skills and talents becoming democratized. Self expression is a human right. When I look at the numbers of followers artists and creators can get on TikTok, I don’t just think about the money they make but the level of human acceptance (the love) of their creative expressions. We all came into this world dying to be heard and this generation has it all- the tools,the platform, and the support.
Image Credits: Mothertree Stage Casey Byars/Evan Bozarth
Seed or Shadow?
by Jan Bozarth
Releasing new Aventurine Series of books, music and games into the wild in 2022!
In my new book, The Queens of Aventurine, Queen Mileous Fortune ( Miley) is the keeper of the natural world. She is in charge of trees, flowers, and seeds among other things. But everything and everyone is in danger of being wiped out by a dark force called Shadowan. Shadowan are beings who have allowed themselves to give in completely to their dark side- no empathy, hope or dreams. Their humanness becomes elemental taking ominous forms of weather like a sudden dense fog, extreme storms and long periods of drought. Even ink can be a form of Shadowan trickery. It's Miley's job to keep this darkness in balance, preserve the magical seeds, and train the young queens who come into power on their eighteenth birthday. She is also charged with keeping them from crossing the portals into the human world.
As a fantasy writer, I am aware of the common practice of embodying my characters. They are not exactly me but dimensions of my psyche and expressions of my hopes and dreams and often ideas buried deep within me and far from awareness. That's why I'm still surprised when the real world presents a character or situation exactly like the ones I wrote years ago. I wrote the Queens of Aventurine in 2019 with an eye on tying the story to real world activities for young people like saving trees and seeds. Since then other uncanny similarities have emerged. Young teens, especially girls, are suffering mental health issues thanks to the pandemic shutting down their normal lives as well as the proliferation of social media images burying their sense of self even deeper than ever. The dark forces that threaten to take over the world in my story have arrived in the real world. It seems the Shadowan have passed through the portals, disguising themselves as extreme weather and bad ink...false words, extractive and destructive human behaviors.
Like Miley, I see myself as a trainer of young queens, girls from 8-18 and sometimes adult women who wish they had this when they were young. I learned these things traveling the world and talking to young people when I released the series, The Fairy Godmother Academy (2008-2013). My calling is to bring out the light in young people so that they may create and thrive, teach them to dream again even if the Shadowan prevail. The Queens of Aventurine is an origin story for those who want to know themselves and create a better future. I'll be casting magical Aventurine seeds into the Metaverse in 2022 with new music, NFT's, games and books.
Great White Heron of Winter 2020
It is December 2020 and there is a lone great white heron fishing amongst the reeds in the manmade lake where I walk each day. A blue norther is blowing in tonight, temperatures have dropped dramatically, but he's still here.
I first saw him on a cold autumn day back in September. That day I raced home and referred to my birding sites to try to determine why he had not flown south for the winter like most water birds in these parts. To my surprise, I learned that some of these birds have started wintering here even in the coldest of times. Global warming has made that possible. Like people, some have adapted while most of the flock have flown south, to go about their lives as usual.
But today it is not just the extraordinary timing of an out-of-season-bird that captures my attention. It is the sheer beauty of it. It's an empty canvas with a few undefined brush strokes- one blue, one black, and one imagined white stroke that is camouflaged into the white of the canvas. I imagine this as the heron's stark white form against a cold blue sky, gracefully harmonizing like it is summer in the reeds and water. The sound of this image is a randomly captured syncopation of words in my head,"right here, right now, right here, right now", mixed with wind and heron vocals. This is the music of being alone in the dead of this particular winter. Instead of counting laps, I am breathing each footstep to the "right here, right now" of the moment.
Animals speak to me. Not in an animated way but in a spiritual and profound style of messaging. I think of what they might be feeling and why they are behaving or showing up in the particular way I am observing. I feel privileged to hear them. Sometimes this happens in dreams but quite often in real life.
Those who know me know I am accustomed to seeing animals where they shouldn't be. I once saw a wolf in an area of the hill country about twenty miles outside of Austin, a place wolves are not usually seen. I was driving to work early one morning when I spotted something at the side of the road just outside my peripheral vision. My mind said," a deer is about to run across this road." But before I could process that information a huge wolf appeared squarely framed in my windshield, remaining in full motion as he jumped across the hood of my car. He did not hesitate. It was a ballet of sorts. My car going 40 MPH and his leap perfectly timed to clear the hood of the car without a pause. I knew there were no wolves in this area of Texas. I thought it might be a coyote, but I knew different. Of course no one I told at work or home believed me. They all repeated the conventional wisdom... that wolves were not in the area. It was months later that I learned that a man in our rural neighborhood had kept two wolves on his property while trying to domesticate them. They had recently escaped. I had not trusted my eyes or what I knew in my heart. After attaining this wisdom lesson I chose the wolf spirit as one of my totem animals. This was just one of the many animal totem experiences of my life but one that seems to repeat itself over and over, especially in times like these.
Everything changes, including our own way of seeing. There are fish to catch and stories to tell, born out of cold winters and time. The winter of 2020 has now taken a turn for the better in my mind and heart. It is the slight glimmer of light sparkling off the reeds. It is ours to determine what we believe about the future. Is it an unlikely lone great white heron or the reflection of the sun on a shiny surface? Either can be true. What we believe is what we see.
My newest book and audiobook, Pet Eyes-A New Way of Seeing is available on dreameroo.com or http://helloaventurine.com-jb-amazon
Across the Chasm into the Future
Where do you begin when you discover that everything you thought was going to happen will not be happening? Plans are so last year... Most of us are paralyzed by uncertainty. If a global pandemic or political unrest is not enough to shake your plans, maybe a serious health issue or personal loss is? Whatever has torn your reality apart in 2020, it most likely feels like there is a hard end to the road as you have formerly known it and with no clear path beyond. That large gap between realizing things have changed irrevocably and your next thing, is a grand canyon. You can not walk across this one. You must learn to fly. This is not the road less traveled but the gap that stops those who can not or will not brave the unknown.
How do we plan for a future that we can not imagine?
I would like to begin with an assessment of what has changed and what has remained the same for me. This is the first exercise in growing wings.
When I listen to the music that I liked when I was 18, it feels like nothing has changed. It is a comfort to feel that some things remain, like my love of the ocean, fairy tales, flowers, stones and music. I’ll call this my Inner Truth 2020. When I think of all that has transpired for me as a human woman though, everything has changed- my age, my lived experiences, the way the world works. This is my Outer Truth 2020. I couldn’t have envisioned this world when I was twenty. But still I followed a 'thread of desire' to create in words, music, and images-all separate and distinct areas of practice back then. There was no straight line or degree to all these things as a unit. Although I studied music, art and creative writing in college, it was my mother’s insistence that I take typing that was the surprise break-through skill. You have to admit that typing IS essential. Thanks, Mom. Oddly (to me) tech answered my creative and career needs – quick extraction of creative ideas from my head, empowering my voice, and ease of producing those ideas. With this strange twist I seamlessly rode a technology wave of early creativity and production tools to write and produce games, music, and other interactive and immersive offerings. This career unfolded before me like a magic carpet.
That is my lived experience of following a simple thread of personal truth into an unknown future. A lifetime of dreamwork has shown me the nature of non-linear time and the deep connection to people, places, and things through the lens of feeling and memory. I am not a 3-dimensional girl. I required more than time and space to tell a story.
Now, your turn to do the "what has changed and what has not" exercise, plus 3 more practices to help you embrace the uncertainty and soar into your version of the unknown future.
WHAT TO LEAVE BEHIND AND WHAT TO TAKE
Make your own list of things that have stayed the same for you and say a good-bye to those things that have changed forever. It might surprise you. Be warmed by what remains no matter what.
YOUR MUSE IS CALLING – LISTEN UP
The great writer and poet, Mary Oliver, wrote, “The most regretful people on earth are those who felt the call to creative work, who felt their own creative power restive and uprising, and gave to it neither power nor time.” You may not see yourself as a creative but your inner self does. Don't worry about the messiness of creating something good or beautiful. Do what's in your heart. Let yourself feel the calling and give it space and time in your life.
CREATE SOMETHING FROM NOTHING – BE RESOURCEFUL
Creating something from nothing has always been seen as an artist's work. I argue that it is everyone's work, but it is not about skill, tools or delivery systems. It is soul work. Covid-19 has helped us think about our spaces differently. Where we work, live, play, and how it all affects us. There is a larger platform to express ideas and what is pleasurable to the heart. Ideas were never born in boxes. Refresh and reuse ordinary into extraordinary.
KNOW YOURSELF – WRITE IT ALL DOWN
I highly recommend keeping day and night journals. The day journal is to hold your conscious ideas, thoughts and feelings. The night journal is for capturing those illusive dreams and images that are re-ordered and fed back to your conscious mind through your very own symbolic language. For the most part these two types of journals will give you different insights into your inner workings. This is where you will discover what will never change. Self knowledge is the stuff that wings are made of.
Across the chasm of uncertainty there’s a new life, a next chapter, a begin-again. Step to the edge and fly.
Jan was featured on the "All About That Brand" Podcast with Grace Lanni to discuss her creative life as it applies to building a brand in the entertainment industry. Listen Here!
Reach the Well
I'm looking for you, beauty.
Shiny and new, an original. Something below the skin. Let me in. Gotta ticket to paradise. On a boat in a tunnel ride where statues of Venus stare into my eyes. What do they see? Have they gone deep? To reach the well. Reach the well. Campaign to hypnotize. Stealing the light behind my eyes. Bring out the candles. Light them. And begin. Gotta ticket to paradise. On a boat in a tunnel ride where statues of Venus stare into my eyes. What do they see? Have they gone deep? To reach the well. Reach the well. Reach the well. Reach the well. Reach the well.
by Jan Bozarth (Copyright 2015)
I'm going to go out on a limb here
and say that we do not need another list of ten things to do to lose weight, succeed in business, or find happiness in 2017. My plan is to have no plan this year. I'm putting my money on my inner resources. Here are some ideas for accessing what's already there- inside you. Nothing to buy or change. Just use what you've got. Turns out there is power in the blank spaces, the silence, your patterns, your feedback loops, your cells, and your feelings.
Curiosity saved the cat. Literally. Let's say you are not feeling up to the rigors of starting something new. If you ask yourself 'why' you are feeling this way, you have made it past the first gate toward solving a problem, making a move, or eliminating an issue. In his book, The Upward Spiral, Alex Korb says that feelings like pride, guilt, and shame activate neural circuits that provide brain stimulation to "act" in order to receive the "reward". Recognizing your motivation for not being able to get off the couch, could lead you to getting off the couch. Another habit, worrying, can be a brain activator too. Worrying makes our brains feel better which in turn makes us relax because we feel as if we are doing something which finally makes us actually do something.
No Equipment Needed
Now that you are off the couch, you might think about some Yoga. Yoga stimulates the frontal lobe insula which integrates thoughts and emotions. I don't know about you but I need this. We all know what happens when the head and the heart are at odds. Then there's that other little ditty, buried beneath the dirty laundry, Intuition. Trust it. You have it. Intuition is where a solution materializes all of a sudden. Research shows that the part of the brain for fast, automatic, unconscious cognitive operations lies beneath the basal ganglia, is linked to, but is not a part of the cortex. Early findings show the brain brings the output of unconscious processing into awareness, but we are not exactly sure why. Anecdotal evidence shows that if you use it more, it will sharpen and increase in frequency. Ask a woman who has been practicing this for years.
Who's in Charge Here
If you think you are going to think your way to greatness, try using the heart instead with empathy and gratitude. The current research tells us that the heart produces by far the body's most powerful rhythmic electromagnetic field. That field changes as we experience different emotions. It registers in people's brains around us, affects cells, water, and DNA in vitro. Gratitude works by just thinking about what you are grateful for which boosts serotonin and dopamine in the brain. Your brain converts your quiet mental review into happy chemicals. If you are still rejecting the "follow your heart" or "do what you love" ideas, science says, " get on board!"
Day Dreamers Wanted
I have written a lot about night dreams but I want to give a shout-out to Day Dreamers. I am the stare-into-space-kind. I have a favorite button that says," It might look like I'm doing nothing but on a cellular level I'm really quite busy." I have often been accused of spending an inordinate amount of time appearing to do nothing. My body of work defies this. Part of my process is actively imagining or dreaming my story, song, or business idea. I am a big fan of quiet time, nothingness, and space. I feel this is my work time and expect not to be disturbed as if I am not busy. If you meditate in a traditional way, I applaud you. But meditation can also be as simple as taking a few minutes of time-out where the brain rests, sorts, and clears space in the closet for new ideas. If Creativity is the skill of the future, we must all learn to leave space for new ideas.
Dare to Be Wrong
A final note for my No Plan Plan- when you are trying out new things (risk), you're going to be wrong a good percent of the time. Admit it. It will save time. You only learn from mistakes if you are humble enough to admit them. You don't need another list of things that worked and those that didn't. You know. To be self aware is to be rocket fueled. You will move along your path at great speed and it will appear effortless to others. You will know it's not, but they don't need to know. It will be our little secret in 2017.
Every bit of this is free and available to you right this minute and tomorrow too.
Your Escort To The Edge
If you say you are not a singer, does that mean you never sing? If you say you are not a dancer, does that mean you never dance? If you say you are not normal, does that mean you are crazy? Why must there be this wall between the creatives (the crazies) and the supposed non-creatives ( normals).My granddaughter came to the dinner table one night and said, “Gigi ( that’s my grandmother name), what is this thing called normal?” Our family has never been that. She was comparing herself to the kids she met in her new school. We are made up of painters, dancers, singers, and musicians. We are also business men and women and sensitive hard-working humans. I would never call us normal. But it made me think that we really do not know what normal IS. And we do bandy about the word “crazy” a little too much. What exactly is the normal of now? It is good to be weird but bad to be crazy? By most people’s standards my entertainment business friends are the crazy ones. I am surrounded by varying degrees of pathology-bipolar, narcissistic, dreamers pushing their creative agendas. I like these people. I generally like the way their brains work. They are often shy, funny-haired, nervous, outside folk. They are risk takers who don’t mind sharing endless scripts, stories, and projects with strangers. In a word, they are interesting. They would never pronounce themselves “not a dancer or a singer” and would have no problem breaking into a tone-deaf version of “My Girl” while dancing like Elaine in Seinfeld. This is MY normal. If we are outside of something, then where is the edge?Today I was called to counsel a writer friend who is plagued with rage, depression, and brilliance. Yes a certain kind of brilliance is like a disease because it calls for immediate action which most assuredly goes against “normal and acceptable”. The medicine for this is some form of running down the street with your hair on fire, literally or figuratively. Or maybe the afflicted needs to wrap herself in a blanket like a taco, stay in bed for three days, and contain the ideas into small packages which can be later sold to clients. My friend had just stayed up all night writing a play that was in her head. She had to get out, an exorcism of sorts, and then get up and drive her child to school. Although she has a successful career and a beautiful family, she often longs to run away, alone in an RV, free of everything except for her next book or short story. I was forced to have the “mental-health-for-creatives talk” with her. This is how it goes….You can vent this stuff like steam through the cracks in your armor. You can hide it in blankets or bury it like a pig in a hole filled with hot coals. It cooks, it steams, it sends out a sweet odor. You WILL be haunted by it until a new idea comes along that takes its place. Maybe you can you write it down in long hand on a yellow pad and then rip it up. I like driving west into the sun as fast as I can. That has always worked for me. Very very loud punk or rap music also works. Once you find your hiding spot or your vents, you can expect the pressure to let up a bit. It never goes away completely though. Big ideas just cook like that roasted pig-long and deep. Now if you are trained as a therapist or a psychiatrist, you’re probably thinking this advice is not really medically sound. But it works for teenagers and my “crazy” friends. Some of them have won awards for their long-roasted pigs/ideas/books/songs. Like Jack Kerouac, “I go for the mad ones who burn, burn, burn like fabulous roman candles…” I told my granddaughter that being normal is over rated. She went off happily to write a song. I didn’t tell her that she might need to develop some coping skills someday for her raging mind churning out ideas faster than a sausage factory. Maybe the new normal is acceptance of this kind of mind. I hope so because I don’t plan to stop the burning.
Jan Bozarth has made a career out of her words, music, and images. She is a published songwriter and book writer (The Fairy Godmother Academy Series Random House/Yearling) and Coded for Greatness of the Aventurine Series. She is a producer of entertainment for girls, women, and anyone who has a dream.