Citing the hours of editing and effort involved in its creation, Kayla Lacks printed out the text of her OKCupid profile and mailed it to the Iowa Writers Workshop as the manuscript portion of her application.
Lacks is, by all accounts, the first person to ever do this.
“I spent a lot of time cultivating these short answers,” says Lacks, while looking around the room for her OKC date, set to arrive any moment. “I felt that this questionnaire best represented who I was as both as person and a writer.”
While certainly unconventional, the manuscript is humorous, interesting, and has a defined arc. Her answer to “Six Things I Could Never Live Without” included clever quips such as, “Friends (both in real life and the TV show <3)” and interesting turns of phrase: “When you stop learning, you stop growing, and when you stop growing, you start shrinking.”
Lacks says she workshopped her OKCupid profile with a group of fellow single colleagues. “We wanted to get the best results, so Hannah, Courtney and I gathered around a table to read and provide constructive criticism on our answers,” she says, “which just so happens to be Iowa’s primary teaching method.”
“Ms. Lacks’ OKCupid profile showed promise and wit,” says Professor Kathleen Callahan, “and effectively communicated a unique point of view, which is what we look for in our budding writers.”
Kayla answered OKCupid’s profile question, “What I’m Doing With My Life,” with polished prose and emotional depth, explaining how she wanted to be a writer but also loved mountain biking and hanging with friends.
“Indeed it doesn’t,” grins Callahan, while nodding and placing the manuscript in a bin marked “GOOD”.
“I was particularly impressed by the section in which she lists her favorite books and movies, the eclecticism of which betrays a protagonist with depth and contradictions,” Professor Callahan continues. “Her protagonist is well-read, having expressed enthusiasm over 19th century novelists like George Eliot, balanced with contemporary pop culture, having written, ‘The Dark Knight is the best movie of ALL TIME. All I need is takeout and a Nolan marathon ;-).’”
“What most impressed me about the profile is how it blurred fiction with autobiographical elements to create a poignant character,” says Professor Callahan. “The persona created in the OKCupid profile is an effective satire of the contemporary dating scene, a witty submission indeed. It is clever opus that will contribute much to our famous fiction workshops.”
“I am elated. Not only did I get accepted to the most prestigious Masters’ program for writing in the country,” she says, “But I also got a date with ILoveNY8943, and he’s legitimately six-foot-four.”