Related to: 'Work Rules!'

Julie Sarkissian blogs about the problems facing the protagnist of her debut novel, DEAR LUCY

Something's Wrong With Lucy - But What?

Lucy is different – that much is clear. She speaks like a child, doesn’t recognize social boundaries, flies into rages, and treasures rotten food. Her cognition is impaired, her vocabulary is very limited and she cannot read or write. But what – precisely – is wrong with her is left up to the reader. Lucy is the protagonist of my novel, DEAR LUCY, and from the first sentence of the book I ever wrote it was obvious that Lucy was cognitively different. The way Lucy describes herself is as “missing too many words.” Her mother calls her “difficult.” Readers of early drafts of the book had a few theories as to Lucy’s condition; autism, Williams Syndrome, Down Syndrome. But Lucy’s mother has kept her from going to school and Lucy has never seen a doctor. So in the fictional reality of the book there is no official diagnosis. But as the novel progressed I wondered – should I have one? I was torn. If Lucy was presenting enough symptoms to point to a real condition, was I ignoring the obvious not to fold that condition into my development of her character? Was it insensitive of me to allude to aspects of certain real, life-altering conditions but not assign a specific condition to Lucy? I worried about appropriating aspects of serious conditions without treating those conditions with proper respect and acknowledgement. And though any clinical diagnosis would probably not be explicit in the novel, I wondered if I would be ignoring an opportunity to bring attention to a real disorder when people asked me about Lucy’s condition, the way The Curious Incident of The Dog in the Night-time did for autism. On the other hand, I had concerns that if I chose a diagnosis for Lucy, I would be ascribing to her qualities that she wouldn’t have otherwise presented. Lucy had her own will over my writing and over the novel. I didn’t want to yoke Lucy’s expression by keeping her behavior and abilities consistent with a clinical condition. Accuracy would also become a critical issue if Lucy’s condition was named. Ultimately I chose not to diagnose Lucy, though I worry the artistic freedom provided by that decision comes at the price of being judged for being too liberal with my treatment of cognitive disorders. Now that publication is a few months away, I am apprehensive of how my treatment of Lucy’s cognitive limitations will be judged. I have yet to talk to a reader who has a learning different child, or works with learning different people, and that conversation is one I will be honored, and not a bit anxious, to have.

Alex Ferguson

Born in Glasgow in 1941, Sir Alex Ferguson was playing football at an international level as a school boy. He began his professional playing career in 1958 with Queen's Park. Four times winner of Manager of the Year, he has been the manager of Manchester United for thirteen years during a time when they have become the most successful and richest club in the world. MANAGING MY LIFE was awarded the British Book Awards' Book of the Year in 1999.Sir Alex Ferguson was born in 1941 in Govan, Scotland. A goal-scoring centre-forward, he was later transferred to Rangers for a Scottish record transfer fee. In 1974, he entered management with East Stirlingshire and St Mirren before joining Aberdeen, where consistent domestic success, followed by victory in the 1983 Cup Winners' Cup over Real Madrid, brought him wider attention.Arriving at Manchester United in 1986, he went on to accumulate 38 trophies, including five FA Cups, 13 Premier Leagues and two Champions Leagues. He was knighted in 1999, following Manchester United's remarkable Treble campaign, and his overall haul of 49 trophies makes him the most successful British manager of all time. Sir Alex announced his retirement in 2013, but he continues to serve United as a director and is a Fellow to the Executive Education Program at Harvard Business School.

Andy Cope

Andy describes himself as an author, happiness expert, qualified teacher and learning junkie. He has spent 10 years researching 'positive psychology' culminating in a 'PhD in Happiness' from Loughborough University. He has developed a series of keynotes and courses centring on themes of happiness and flourishing, which he delivers in business and schools across the world. Andy has written several best-selling personal development books, including 'The Art of Being Brilliant', and is also a best-selling children's author. His 'Spy Dog' series has enjoyed huge global success.

Carol Sanford

Carol Sanford's work is deeply rooted in the belief that people can grow and develop beyond what their leaders or anyone sees possible: to be increasingly entrepreneurial, innovative, and responsible in their business and personal actions. For forty years, she has worked with leaders of successful companies, such as Google, DuPont, Intel, P&G, and Seventh Generation, helping them to innovate and grow their businesses by growing their people. Her work is often called groundbreaking, game changing, original, and inspiring. Carol is currently Executive in Residence and Senior Fellow in Social Innovation at Babson College.

Craig Storti

Craig Storti is founder and co-director of Communicating Across Cultures, a Washington DC-based intercultural communication training and consulting firm. With work appearing in the Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, and Chicago Tribune, he is the author of six books. Having lived nearly a quarter of his life abroad, he lives now in Maryland. www.craigstorti.com

David Blake

DAVID BLAKE is cofounder and CEO of Degreed and has spent his career innovating higher education and lifelong learning. Prior to Degreed, he helped launch a competency-based, accredited university and was a founding team member at Zinch (acquired by Chegg). David was selected as a Top EdTech Entrepreneur by the Stanford d.School EdTech Lab sponsored by Teach For America and NewSchools Venture Fund. He has been published in the Harvard Technology Review, Business Insider, TechCrunch, and Huffington Post. He has spoken around the world on the topic of the future of learning, including the ASU Education Innovation Summit, EdTech Europe, and TEDx.

Denise Lee Yohn

Denise is an in-demand speaker and consultant, and a regular contributor to Harvard Business Review, Forbes and Fast Company. Her global clients include Oakley, Lexus, New Balance, Target, Sony and Facebook (to name a few). She is frequently called upon by the business media, including: FOX Business TV, CNBC, the Wall Street Journal and National Public Radio, to discuss on hot business issues.

Eric Schmidt

Eric Schmidt served as Google's CEO from 2001 to 2011. During that time he shepherded the company's growth from a Silicon Valley start-up to a global technology leader that today has over $55 billion in annual revenues and offices in more than 40 countries. Eric is now Google's executive chairman.

Ernest Gundling

Ernest Gundling is co-founder and co-President of Aperian Global and author of Working GlobeSmart and co-author of Global Diversity.

John Brooks

John Brooks (1920-1993) was an award-winning writer best known for his contributions to the New Yorker as a financial journalist. He was also the author of ten nonfiction books on business and finance, a number of which were critically acclaimed works examining Wall Street and the corporate world. His books Once in Golconda, The Go-Go Years, and Business Adventures have endured as classics. Although he is remembered primarily for his writings on financial topics, Brooks published three novels and wrote book reviews for Harper's Magazine and the New York Times Book Review.

John Knell

John Knell (Author) John Knell, along with Richard Reeves, are co-founders of the Intelligence Agency, a strategy and research consultancy. Their roster of clients includes BT, Accenture, Sky, PricewaterhouseCoopers, NESTA, PepsiCo, the Arts Council, Orange and the BBC. They are both contributors to the Whitehall Top Management Programme.

Jonathan Rosenberg

Jonathan Rosenberg joined Google in 2002 and managed the design and development of the company's consumer, advertiser, and partner products, including Search, Ads, Gmail, Android, Apps, and Chrome. He is currently an advisor to Google CEO Larry Page.

Judy Bartkowiak

Judy Bartkowiak's training courses and coaching practice have helped thousands of people to apply the skills of NLP in their everyday lives. She is a qualified NLP Trainer, NLP Master Practitioner, NLP Sports Practitioner, NLP Business Practitioner and NLP Children's Practitioner.

Kelly Palmer

KELLY PALMER, Chief Learning Officer, Degreed. A well-known thought leader on the future of learning and career development, Kelly was the chief learning officer of LinkedIn. Prior to LinkedIn, Kelly was vice president of Learning at Yahoo! and held executive positions in learning, M&A, and product development at Sun Microsystems. She speaks regularly at business conferences around the world, has been featured in Big Think, Forbes, and Chief Learning Officer (CLO) magazine where she writes a regular column on the employee experience.

Kelly Riggs

Kelly Riggs is an author, speaker, and business performance coach for executives and companies throughout the United States and Canada. He has worked with companies in a variety of industries, with revenues ranging from $3 million to Fortune 500 companies. Recognized as a dynamic, powerful speaker, and successful performance coach in the areas of sales, management leadership, and strategic planning, Kelly is a former sales executive and two-time national Salesperson-of-the-Year with well over two decades of executive management and training experience.

Matthew Syed

Matthew Syed is a leading columnist and feature writer for The Times and the host of the UK's biggest podcast: Flintoff, Savage and the Ping Pong Guy on BBC Radio 5. Matthew also gives business talks to major international corporate clients including. Before becoming a writer Matthew was the England table tennis number one for almost a decade, three times Commonwealth Champion, and he twice represented Great Britain in the Olympic Games.Matthew Syed's first book, Bounce: The Myth of Talent and the Power of Practice, was shortlisted for the William Hill Sports Book of the Year. His second, Black Box Thinking, was a Sunday Times No.1 bestseller. He has also published a collection of his award-winning sports columns in The Greatest.

Nancy Turner

Nancy Elaine Turner was born in Dallas, Texas and grew up in Southern California and Arizona. She began writing fiction as an assignment for a class at Pima Community College and completed a Bachelor's degree in Fine Arts Studies from the University of Arizona in 1999 with a triple major in Creative Writing, Music, and Studio Art. She lives in Tucson with her husband and Snickers, a dog rescued by F.A.I.R. She has two married children and four grandchildren. She also enjoys the outdoors, theater, movies, and antiques.For more information visit www.nancyeturner.net

Nigel Cumberland

Nigel Cumberland is a founding partner of the London based Silk Road Partnership, which provides a range of coaching/mentoring services across the Gulf, Europe and Asia. Clients include the World Bank, Google, Standard Chartered Bank, Commerzbank, Bureau Veritas, Dubai Government, Malaysian Government and Macquarie Bank. He has held various C-Level and Managing Director positions with a number of multinationals and sat on a number of Boards of Directors.

Rebecca Holman

Rebecca Holman is currently the editor of TheDebrief.co.uk, the award-winning digital brand for millennial women, sister publication to Grazia. Until recently, Rebecca wrote a weekly column about sex, dating and single life forTelegraph Wonder Women. She has featured as a guest on TV and radio, recently appearing on the Victoria Derbyshire Show and Women's Hour to discuss issues such as female friendships and social media.

Richard Nugent

Richard Nugent is a perfomance coach, motivator and leadership expert. As a Talent Coach, his Success in Football consultancy has worked with players and coaches from Liverpool, Newcastle United, Sunderland, Southampton and LA Galaxy. In business, as MD of twentyoneleadership, he works with corporate clients such as Tesco and Lego to improve their leadership development, business balance and coaching culture. He has regularly appeared on BBC Radio and in other media.

Richard Reeves

Richard Reeves (Author) Richard Reeves, along with John Knell, are co-founders of the Intelligence Agency, a strategy and research consultancy. Their roster of clients includes BT, Accenture, Sky, PricewaterhouseCoopers, NESTA, PepsiCo, the Arts Council, Orange and the BBC. They are both contributors to the Whitehall Top Management Programme. Richard is currently European Business Speaker of the Year. He is a columnist and editor-at-large for Management Today.