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.

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.

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.

Donald Robertson

Donald Robertson is a cognitive-behavioural psychotherapist, trainer and author who specialises in the treatment of anxiety and the use of CBT. He is the author of six books and many articles on philosophy, psychotherapy and psychological skills training.

Geoff Colvin

Geoff Colvin is Fortune's senior editor-at-large and is also the author of Talent is Overrated and The Upside of the Downturn. He has served as moderator of the Fortune Global Forum, where he has interviewed Bill Gates, Jack Welch, Herb Kelleher, Peter Drucker and other business legends. Colvin graduated Harvard cum-laude with a B.A. in Economics, and received his MBA from New York University's Stern School.

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).

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'.

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.

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.

Ken Honda

Ken Honda is a bestselling author of self-development books in Japan. His expertise comes from owning and managing several businesses, including an accounting company, management consulting firm, and a venture capital corporation. His writings bridge the topics of finance and self-help, focusing on creating and generating personal wealth and happiness through deeper self-honesty. Ken's much-sought-after advice has been the impetus for thousands of people to take action toward self-realization, allowing them to work and live from a position of strength and solvency. Ken also provides ongoing support through mentoring programs, business seminars, therapeutic workshops, and correspondence courses.To date, Ken has published more than 110 books, has recorded weekly podcasts for 4 years, and has held seminars and conferences all over Japan for the last 12 years. He is the highest paid professional speaker in Japan. His seminars attract up to 1,000 people and sell out within an hour, and his Japanese website receives more than 250 testimonials and reader comments every day. He is the first person from Japan to be voted into the Transformational Leadership Council, a group of personal and professional development leaders. He is fluent in Japanese and English. He has focused on the Japanese market for 12 years, but is turning his attention to the rest of the world. He currently lives in Tokyo.

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.

Michael Moritz

Sir Michael Moritz was born in Cardiff, studied at Oxford and became a journalist at Time magazine in the US in the late 1970s. It was during this period that he met the young Steve Jobs and wrote the first book about Apple, The Little Kingdom: The Private Story of Apple Computer. Moritz co-authored a second business book, Going for Broke: The Chrysler Story, and in 1986 joined Sequoia Capital, in Silicon Valley, California.Sequoia Capital's close alliances with young founders have been transformed into companies now worth nearly $1.5 trillion - the most of any private investment firm in the world. These include the first investments in companies such as Apple and Cisco and, more recently, YouTube, Airbnb, Dropbox and WhatsApp. Michael Moritz has been a member of the Board of Directors of Google, Yahoo!, PayPal and LinkedIn. In 2012 he became chairman of Sequoia Capital and was knighted in 2013. His family's philanthropic work includes Europe's largest scholarship programme for low income university students. The son of refugees from Nazi Germany, he lives in San Francisco with his wife, Harriet Heyman.

Mike Lewis

Mike Lewis founded When to Jump after quitting his job at a pristine investment firm, to pursue his dream of becoming a professional squash player. He has curated a community of like-minded people who have done the same, to share their stories and inspire others to take the jump.

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.

Phillip Sandahl

Phillip Sandahl is a senior faculty member of CTI and co-founder of Team Coaching International.

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.

Robert Peston

Robert Peston is ITV's political editor, presenter of the politics show Peston on Sunday and founder of the education charity, Speakers for Schools (www.speakers4schools.org). He has written four books, How Do We Fix This Mess?, Who Runs Britain?, Brown's Britain and WTF?. For a decade until the end of 2015, he was at the BBC, as economics editor and business editor. Previously he was City editor at the Sunday Telegraph, political editor and financial editor at the FT, a columnist for the New Statesman, and at the Independent in various roles. Peston has won more than 30 awards for his journalism, including Journalist of the Year from the Royal Television Society. His blog is itv.com/robertpeston, on Facebook he is facebook.com/pestonITV and he is @peston on Twitter.

Rolf Dobelli

Rolf Dobelli (born 1966) is a Swiss writer, novelist and entrepreneur. He has an MBA and a PhD in economic philosophy from the University of St. Gallen, Switzerland. Dobelli is co-founder of getAbstract, the world's leading provider of book summaries. Dobelli has written six works of fiction. Most famously, he is author of THE ART OF THINKING CLEARLY, which became an instant success and landed on the number 1 spot on Germany's official Bestseller list and has been translated in many languages. Dobelli is also founder and curator of ZURICH.MINDS, an invitation-only community of the most distinguished thinkers, scientists and artists.www.dobelli.com www.facebook.com/dobelli

Sivasailam Thiagarajan

Dr. Sivasailam "Thiagi" Thiagarajan is the Resident Mad Scientist at The Thiagi Group, an organization with the mission of helping people improve their performance effectively and enjoyably. Thiagi's clients include AT&T, Arthur Andersen, Bank of Montreal, Cadence Design Systems, Chevron, IBM, Intel, Intelsat, United Airlines, and Liberty Mutual. In addition, Thiagi has worked with more than 50 other organizations in high-tech, financial services, and management consulting areas for whom he has consulted and conducted training in such areas as rightsizing, diversity, creativity, teamwork, customer satisfaction, human performance technology, and organizational learning. Internationally recognized as an expert in multinational collaboration and active learning in organizations, Thiagi has lived in three different countries and has consulted in 21 others.