The email arrives every week like clockwork. It’s a message to Jennette McCurdy from Sean Manning, her editor at Simon & Schuster, announcing that her memoir, “I’m Glad My Mom Died,” is on the best-seller list for yet another week. She has now received this congratulatory missive 51 times. McCurdy doesn’t pay close attention to where the book falls in the rankings — this week it’s at No. 4 — but, she said in a phone interview, “I’m always very excited to see Sean’s name in my inbox.”
So what has the past year looked like for the “iCarly” star, who laid bare her complicated relationship with her mother? (Several publishers declined to read the book proposal based on the title alone.) To begin with, there’s been a marked shift in McCurdy’s relationship with strangers. “Not one person has approached me for being an actor from the TV show they watched when they were little,” she said. “For the past year, it has 100 percent been being recognized as the author of this book and I am beyond grateful for that.”
McCurdy added, “I wish I could describe to you how grateful I am. It literally makes my heart pound.”
When she fills out forms at a doctor’s office, McCurdy lists “writer” as her occupation, which led to one of the year’s most memorable encounters. “The dental assistant came in with her phone while I had the whole clip in my mouth,” McCurdy said. “Literally holding my mouth open and, like, gunk falling out. She was like, ‘Oh my God, can I get a picture? I love your book!’” McCurdy obliged.
She has heard about complicated relationships from every branch of strangers’ family trees — siblings, parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, you name it. “That’s been a really connecting experience,” McCurdy said. The overwhelmingly positive response to her candor seems to have had a greater impact on McCurdy than her longevity on the best-seller list.
Of course, this wouldn’t be a story about a victory lap if we didn’t invite our subject to share some wisdom for writers on the starting line. McCurdy’s is two-pronged: “Don’t read anything you might be inclined to mimic,” she said. “And write a first draft just for yourself. If your story is something that you want to share with the world, try and separate yourself from your own experience as much as possible.”
McCurdy’s first drafts are, as she put it, “just vomit.” For the novel she’s working on now, she might keep 20 percent of the original version. “Who knows if I’ll ever write the thing if I get caught up in doubt too early,” she said. “But I do love to bring doubt in when I’m looking over the first draft, figuring out what needs a rewrite and what needs to stay. I think there’s a time and a place for the inner critic; I think there’s a place for the guy.”
She paused, then added, “The inner critic is a guy, right?”
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