Contributor: Ryan Priest

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For about twenty-five hours I was a writer. A real writer. Well screenwriter at least. Not exactly a novelist or poet but a paid man of words nonetheless. Thank god for the internet or I might have labored under this false belief for longer. Twenty five hours, sixty minutes over a day was as long as it took for the entire charade to play itself out.

You don't realize how long five years is until a five year wait ends and sitting in your inbox is a letter from some guy. He calls himself a producer, says he loves your script. And you read, reserving judgment because anybody could be anybody in this business. It might be a thirteen year old boy at the other end of the keyboard.

So I'm a killjoy. I convinced myself that there'd be no pay. There seldom is for someone's first project. The movie might suck. He may have no money or talent, this would-be benefactor come to rescue me after five years of poverty. Los Angeles poverty. After five years of dead ends and unanswered calls...

I never should have told my girlfriend. Not until I was sure. But I wanted to show her that at least some progress had been made. That all of the sacrifices were for something. This guy here, he likes my script. He may be nobody but if he likes it then maybe others will too, maybe somebody. And lacking my cynical discretion she celebrated this "big step" and we went out and paid too much for food at an upscale restaurant. But I didn't get mad once or worry because inside me was this warmth.

Twenty five hours later you're checking your email. There should be some kind of contract to sign and maybe, just maybe, a paycheck. Instead you receive written in a font so innocuous it could never bring devastation, lies. Lies so blatant, a con so obvious that no creature in the possession of the tiniest bit of shame could ever attach their name to the bottom of:

"We just need you to send $3,000 to the address below to get the process started."

And upon seeing the words that little warmth inside me died...

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Ryan Priest is now a produced screenwriter and published novelist. He lives in Los Angeles California where the people are all pretty but the food is all gross.
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