Mira_Jacob
With writing, there’s no guidebook on how to do it and no guaranteed success.

Mira Jacob ’91 has always liked writing, but it wasn’t until she studied at the Academy with some amazing teachers – including Miriam McCluney, John Gray and David Dunbar – that she realized she wanted to be a writer.

While at the Academy, she wrote for student publications, including Other Voices and she received an award for distinguishing herself in writing and art her senior year.

She went on to Smith College to study but left when she realized it wasn’t quite her speed. “It wasn’t a good fit for me,” she admits. “Way too quiet and earnest.”

After leaving college altogether for two years, she eventually found her place at Oberlin College in Ohio, where she earned a degree in writing.

After graduating, she did what many young writers do: she moved to New York City, hoping to find success. “It was hard at first,” she says now. “A lot of jobs have a formula for achievement. With writing, there’s no guidebook on how to do it and no guaranteed success.”

For many years, she wrote anything that would pay the bills. She wrote content for various websites, co-authored fashion designer Kenneth Cole’s autobiography, and wrote for VH-1’s Pop-Up Video. “I did pretty well as a writer-for-hire,” she says. But as the jobs got bigger and better, Mira got further away from what she truly wanted to do: write literary fiction.

Around this time, she ran into a childhood friend – Jed Rothstein ’92 – at a birthday party for Matt Feil ’91 in New York. “We really hit it off creatively,” she says. Three years later, she and Jed were married.

In 2001, inspired by a line she had penned in what she describes as a “less than memorable short story,” Mira began writing her first novel. She says the basic premise of the book was, what happens when the person you love is delusional (this, she says, has nothing to do with Jed)!

She worked on the book until 2004, but when her dad became ill, she put it away. It wasn’t until a year and half after his death that Mira was able to return to the book. When she did, she found she was completely recreating the father character in the story to mirror her own father.

She continued to work on the book, but she was still a writer-for-hire and the book had to take a backseat to her need for a paycheck.

But, in 2012, when she was suddenly laid off, she and Jed made a decision: It was time for her to finish the book. Mira took three months off and finished The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing.

After ten years of effort, Mira was surprised that she had finally finished. But, she was even more surprised, when a publisher bought the book. “I was shocked and it could not have come at a better time.”

Mira says the entire experience of becoming a published author has been a bit surreal. “For ten years, these characters solely existed in my head,” she says. “Now a lot of people know them. It’s disorienting.”

The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing was published in July and has received stellar reviews. It has been featured as a hot summer book pick in a number of popular publications, including in People, Marie Claire, Better Homes & Gardens, Coastal Living, and O. It is also being published in 12 countries, including her ancestral home, India. She says she is thrilled and humbled by the positive response.

“I wrote this book for people who live with enormous grief,” she explains, admitting that she is one of those people. She’s glad that some part of her dad is out there in the universe.

Mira is already working on her next book. She says she’s not planning to take another decade with this one, but if that’s how long it takes, then that’s the right speed for her. “If it takes another ten years, but I end up as creatively fulfilled with it as I am with this one, then that will be a wonderful gift.”