It has been many years since I was in high school. Counting back, it has been over 37 years since I left my home town school. The building no longer exists. The vintage brick and mortar building has been torn down and replaced by a modern institution on the outskirts of town. 

     My diploma does not have the school name on it. My diploma is a general equivalency diploma issued by the state of Maine. I earned this two years after I would have graduated, if I had stayed in school. 

    Because of the invitation from Melissa Haskell Ayres, I have faced a paradoxical situation. I have spoken as an author encouraging young students about writing. A subject I did not have any passion for when I was their age. If my high school self were in the room, I would have used the time to daydream or lounge. Instead, I and three other authors, Duane E. Coffill, Michael Goyet, and Dede Moore, faced a group of inquisitive students. 

     Luckily for me, I am habitually early to events, and I had time to get accustomed to the library. Jane Seeley, Head Librarian, and Audrey Walker, the Assistant Librarian, greeted me warmly. After talking for a bit, I relaxed as much as I could. My fellow authors and I were seated in the front of the room as a guest panel. 

     The kids trickled in and soon we began talking about our books and perspectives on writing. I was expecting disrespectful and bored students, but instead these kids were very interested in writing. Thank god my former self was not in the room. Many of the students had started writing short stories. They asked many good questions about the writing process. 

     Each author had a different way they liked to write. A lot of us used self-publishing to one extent or another. The writing world is changing at an amazing rate. It was nice to share our stories with the next generation of writers. 

     I was also given the honor of being asked by a student to read the opening of a story they had written. I don't think they will ever realize how good it felt to be asked for comment on another author’s writings. 

     My life would probably not have changed very much if an author had spoken when I was a student. Life was very complicated for me at that time. It's refreshing to see kids who are enthusiastic about expressing themselves. I would like to think I had a positive influence on them during my short visit. If they took away a fraction of the good experience I had, I’ll feel I did my job. 

     This writing adventure I started has taken me to places I would scarcely have imagined. I hope these students find joy in writing and creating. Too many times success is measured in monetary amounts. As I age, I value experiences much more profoundly than money. What do people do with money? They pay to have experiences. Some of my best life moments have been things I have worked for, not the ones I paid for. I poured my soul into my book, and my life experience bank is being compounded with interest. 

     I thank Melissa Haskell Ayres and the Oak Hill School system for making me rich with experiences. 

Mark Evans