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 centreing on themes of happiness and flourishing, which he delivers in businesses 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.

Claudio Feser

Claudio Feser is a Senior Partner and Global Head of McKinsey Academy. Claudio has been in the firm for 25 years and has published several leadership books, including Serial Innovators (2012) and When Execution Isn't Enough (2017), both by Wiley, and Growing Leaders (internal publication).

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.

Derek Haas

Derek Haas is the author of THE SILVER BEAR, the Barry Award-nominated HUNT FOR THE BEAR, and DARK MEN. Derek also co-wrote the screenplays for 3:10 to Yuma, starring Russell Crowe and Christian Bale, and Wanted, starring James McAvoy, Morgan Freeman, and Angelina Jolie. He is currently working on the Sky Living TV series Chicago Fire. Derek lives in Los Angeles.Visit his website at derekhaas.com or follow him on Twitter @popcornhaas.

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.

Henry Kimsey-House

Henry Kimsey-House is one of the first professional coaches in the field. He is the cofounder and lead designer of the provocative, experiential training programs of The Coaches Training Institute (CTI).

Hilton Catt

Pat Scudamore and Hilton Catt are experienced careers consultants and trainers, and the authors of many successful books on career management.

Joe Frodsham

Joe Frodsham, Global Director of Leadership Development at Whirlpool Corporation, has led global change initiatives at Compaq Computers, has consulted across various industries with Anderson Consulting, and speaks and writes on leadership, talent, and organizational development with such organizations as the Association for Quality and Productivity and the Center for Creative Leadership.

John Mole

John Mole has been at home in Greece for thirty years. "Like Odysseus making his legendary way home to his birthplace Ithaca, the island of Evia was the goal of my life's journey. It was better than Birmingham." He has had a varied international career, from banking in the USA and Athens to jacket potato restaurants in Russia. Meanwhile, he published comic novels and management books, including the perennial bestseller 'Mind Your Manners'.

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.

Karen Kimsey-House

Karen Kimsey-House is the cofounder and CEO of The Coaches Training Institute and among the earliest recognised luminaries in the coaching profession. She founded CTI in 1992 with Laura Whitworth and Henry Kimsey-House. Together they created the Co-Active philosophy of relationships that informs CTI's world-renowned coaching and leadership programs.

Kathryn Sollmann

For 15 years Kathryn Sollmann has been a recognized leader in helping women navigate the many stages of work and life while juggling two major caregiving roles-for children and aging parents. Through Kathryn's entrepreneurial venture, 9 Lives for Women, a blog and coaching practice, she has moved theconversation away from merely the pros and cons of work vs. motherhood to a more significant one: firmly establishing the link between work and a woman's ability to achieve long-term financial security. Her emphasis on women's financial independence has generated event-sponsorship funding from corporate wealth-management giants, including AXA Advisors, Fidelity, Raymond James, Cigna and Wells Fargo. With good humour, no-nonsense delivery, and a unique ability to educate and motivate, Kathryn is a frequent speaker, seminar leader, and inspirational voice for women in all work and life stages.

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.

Laura Whitworth

Laura Whitworth was the creator of the Co-Active Model with Henry Kimsey-House and Karen Kimsey-House and a recognised leader in the development of the coaching profession.

Martin Manser

Martin Manser is a professional reference-book editor. He is also a language consultant with national companies and organizations. Martin is Part-time tutor at London College of Communication, University of the Arts London and Part-time visiting lecturer at Buckinghamshire New University.

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.

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.

Patricia Scudamore

Pat Scudamore and Hilton Catt are experienced careers consultants and trainers, and the authors of many successful books on career management.