I don’t begin a novel or a screenplay until I know the ending. And I don’t mean only that I have to know what happens. I mean that I have to hear the actual sentences. I have to know what atmosphere the words convey. Or is it a melancholic story? Is there something uplifting or not about it? Is it soulful? Is it mournful? Is it exuberant? What is the language that describes the end of the story? And I don’t want to begin something, I don’t want to write that first sentence until all the important connections in the novel are known to me. As if the story has already taken place, and it’s my responsibility to put it in the right order to tell it to you. Do I begin at the beginning chronologically? Sometimes. Or is it the kind of story that’s better to jump into in the middle and go backwards and forwards at the same time? I am a person who just can’t make those judgments — I can’t come to those decisions — unless I know what’s waiting for me at the end. What makes this story worth the five years it’s going to take me to write it? What is emotionally compelling enough at the end of this novel? What’s waiting for you that’s going to move you at the end of this story? That makes a reader tolerate how long and complicated and at times difficult it’s going to be? And so I always go there. I write those end notes as if they were two pieces of music, so I know what I’m going to hear at the end of the story. I know what the sentences themselves, what they’re going to sound like, and I put them in a log. You know? And they’re waiting for me, and I know I’m not going to get to that part of the story for four, five — in the case of this most recent novel, seven years, but it’s important to me that I hear it.