You think it’s tough to find time to write? You haven’t met Melissa Fay Greene, author of numerous books: Praying for Sheetrock, Finalist for the 1991 National Book Award and a New York Times Notable book; The Temple Bombing; There Is No Me Without You: One Woman's Odyssey to Rescue Her Country's Children and her latest, No Biking in the House Without a Helmet.

While her other books are about heady subjects – corruption in a small southern town, the bombing of the oldest temple in Atlanta, and a woman’s crusade to help children who became orphans because of the AIDs epidemic – No Biking in the House is a memoir of her and her husband’s lives as the parents of nine children – four of their own, a boy from Bulgaria, and a girl and three boys from Ethiopia.

Let me say that again – she has nine children and yet has managed to pen several books and write for a The New Yorker, The Washington Post, Redbook, Salon, The Atlantic, and a host of other publications. I had a chance to speak with her this past weekend. While we were talking, I asked her how she could possibly find the time to write while raising a gaggle of children (she still has six at home). I asked this question for all of us writers who, without our own baseball team of youngsters, struggle to find the time we need to write.

When I meet someone like Ms. Greene, I want to believe she is has a household staff who does everything for her. But that is absolutely not the case with her. Yes, she has help – NINE KIDS – of course, she has some help. But her children are the focus of her life. As she is quoted on the back cover of her book, “We so loved raising our four children by birth, we didn’t want to stop. When the clock started to run down on the home team, we brought in ringers.”

She and I laughed about how we thought when our children started going to preschool play days, twice a week for a couple of hours, we would write. But two hours is only enough time to drop them off, cry in our cars because we are exhausted, and then pick them up. She said she didn’t really return to writing until the youngest went off to school, but that makes it sound too easy. Just a couple of days before, she told me, she sat down to write and got a call from one child who had forgotten his lunch, then from a second one for the same request. Another child requested her assistance immediately, and the woman who assisted her in the house had car problems and needed a ride.

Children always get sick; our parents always want us to spend more time with them; our spouses request our attention; the house looks shabby; the car needs an oil change; the cat has go to the vet; our insurance policies must be reviewed; vacation plans must be made; and the checkbook really should be balanced. That’s life. It’s not going away. I remember thinking when my children left for college I would have lots more time to write, but that absolutely was not the case. The time was quickly filled up.

It’s not that Ms. Greene was able to schedule time when she only had to focus on writing. She wasn’t – she couldn’t with nine children. The point was she recommitted herself to the writing process time and time again, even when it must have felt overwhelming.

I learned a lot about Ms. Greene when she told her story to the audience at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga on Sunday, but I think I may have learned even more about myself – about my excuse making, my procrastination, my desire to want my environment to be perfect before I sit down to write. It isn’t going to happen. It just isn’t. That means that even though I have little control over what bombards me for attention in this life, I do have control to choose to come back to my writing again and again – and that’s what spells success.