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.

Brent Schlender

Brent Schlender, 58 years old, is one of the 'graybeards' of Silicon Valley journalism, having covered the digital revolution almost since it's inception, including 10 years at The Wall Street Journal, and two decades as FORTUNE's lead technology writer. He has won numerous writing awards, and in 2010 was named a 'Silicon Valley Visionary' by SD Forum, the software industry's international trade association.Rick Tetzeli is executive editor of Fast Company. He was Managing Editor of Entertainment Weekly, and Deputy Editor of Fortune. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife, Mari, and their three children.

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

Deirdre Mendez

Deirdre B. Mendez, PhD is an intercultural consultant, trainer, and educator who has helped U.S. companies and their international partners identify and resolve culturally based conflict for nearly three decades. Since 2005, she has been affiliated with the Center for International Business Education and Research (CIBER) at The University of Texas at Austin, where she is currently Associate Director for Cultural Programs. She resides in Texas.

Diana Jones

Diana Jones, brings over 30 years of experience in coaching and leadership development, working with CEOs, managers and teams as they manage change and strive to achieve exceptional business results. http://diana-jones.com/

Emma Gannon

Emma Gannon is a broadcaster, speaker and author who is currently the face of a Microsoft campaign. Her podcast CTRL, ALT, DELETE has now had over 1 million downloads and her second podcast, GET IT OFF YOUR BR**STS in collaboration with Lliana Bird, launched in September 2017. Find her online: twitter @emmagannon / Instagram @emmagannonuk

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.

Iain Maitland

Iain Maitland has been a professional writer since 1987. He has written over 50 books, mainly on business, and been published as far away as Russia, India, Japan, USA and Australia. He has also written for the Sunday Times, Which? and the Financial Times amongst many others.

Ian Roberts

Dave Corbet and Ian Roberts are owners and directors of Greengage Consulting Ltd. For over fifteen years they have helped clients of all sizes and from all kinds of industries make breakthroughs in their ability to deliver remarkable results.. Together they have consulted to the upper echelons of the UK government the Home Office; and the Department for Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs as well as major British firms.

Joanne Lipman

Joanne Lipman was founding Editor-in-Chief of Condé Nast Portfolio magazine, and is a former deputy managing editor of The Wall Street Journal, where she supervised coverage that earned three Pulitzer prizes and earned the epithet 'Innovator in Chief' from the late David Carr. She is a frequent television commentator and has appeared on CNN, NBC, CNBC, and CBS, among others. She also co-authored the critically acclaimed Strings Attached: One Tough Teacher and the Gift of Great Expectations.

John Lees

John Lees is one of the UK's best-known career stategists. He writes regularly for the Times and the Guardian. His work appears regularly in glossies including Psychologies, Marie Claire and Red and he has appeared several times on both the BBC and ITV. He has trained recruitment specialists since the mid-1980s and worked with numerous organisations including HSBC and Reuters.

John Whitmore

Sir John WhitmoreSir John Whitmore is the pioneer of coaching in the workplace and Co-Founder of Performance Consultants International, the market leader in coaching globally. He was the first to take coaching into organizations in the early 1980s and creator of the GROW model, the most used coaching model in the world. Honoured for his lifetime's work with the President's Award from the International Coach Federation, Sir John's global contribution to coaching and leadership has helped to drive organizational transformation. Through his books - most notably Coaching for Performance - workshops and speeches, he defined the principles of performance coaching and midwifed its birth from sporting excellence, transpersonal psychology, and emotional intelligence. Coaching for Performance is widely considered to be the bible of coaching and Sir John's vision, philosophy, and methodology has inspired millions of managers, leaders, and coaches across four decades to bring the best out of themselves and others. Sir John died in 2017, his extraordinary legacy is continued by his colleagues. The new edition of Coaching for Performance to publish in 2017 was completed before his death. Performance Consultants InternationalFounded in the early 1980s by Sir John Whitmore, Performance Consultants' mission is to transform the relationship between organizations and employees. Their stance is simple: organizations are sitting on a great untapped reservoir of potential - that of their people. They partner with organizations globally on effective leadership development, coaching and culture transformation. Market leaders in their field, they invite organizations to improve performance through their leaders and thereby reap rewards for people, profit and planet. Their flagship development programme named after this book is Coaching for Performance, it is considered the industry gold-standard and delivered in over 40 countries and in 23 languages.

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.

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.

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 Williams

Martin Williams is a freelance investigative journalist. His work has appeared in Private Eye, the Guardian, the Observer, the Independent, and elsewhere. He hosts a live comedy show called 'Investigations', with the comedian Josie Long, which combines investigative journalism with stand-up comedy. In 2011 Martin won the Guardian's Scott Trust bursary and studied for an MA in Newspaper Journalism at City University. Before that, he read History and Politics at the University of York.