Writing is never easy — demanding, tiring, draining. Sometimes the spirit is upon me, and other times not. But it’s nowhere near as difficult as it was during the old Olivetti manual and IBM Selectric days of the ’70s and early-to-mid ’80s. Back then I would tell friends “I despise the process, but I love having written.” In my early Manhattan days (late ’70s) writing was like pushing a loaded wheelbarrow uphill, over gravel. I would spend way too many hours composing a 400-word film review, partly because it’s more difficult to write shorter than longer.

In Julia Lilian Hellman (Jane Fonda) threw her typewriter out the window. I got so crazy one night in my Bank Street apartment that I smashed a glass jar of peanut butter against the kitchen wall and cut my palm open. I damaged some nerves, but they gradually regenerated,