Related to: 'Innovation by Design'

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.

Adam Becker

Adam Becker is a science writer with a PhD in astrophysics and an undergraduate degree in philosophy. His writing has appeared in the BBC and New Scientist. He has recorded a video series with the BBC and several podcasts with the Story Collider. He is also a Visiting Scholar at UC Berkeley's Office for History of Science and Technology. He lives in Oakland, CA.

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.

Choon Seng Ng

Choon Seng Ng is a Master WIAL Coach and the Director of WIAL-Singapore. He has trained over 200 coaches in 12 Asian countries. He holds a Masters Degree in Human Resource Development from George Washington University and his company, Idialogue has trained thousands of leaders in public and corporate sectors in Singapore.

Cornelius Grove

Cornelius Grove, Ph.D., is the founder of Grovewell LLC, providing leadership development, executive coaching, team performance, and strategic consulting services to individuals and businesses in the international marketplace. He has authored numerous books and articles, including co-authoring Randomia Balloon Factory, the cultural diversity training game. Visit his website at www.Grovewell.com.

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.

Graham Jones

Graham Jones is an Internet Psychologist who helps businesses understand the online behaviour of their customers and website visitors. He was one of the first psychologists in the world to start investigating the way human behaviour has adapted to the online world. He speaks at conferences on the topic and is a consultant to a number of businesses, helping them engage more fully with their online customers, thereby helping to improve their brand, sales and profits. Graham is an Associate Lecturer at The Open University and a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Buckingham. He is also a regular guest on TV and Radio talking about the Internet and is frequently interviewed by journalists from around the world about the topic of online behaviour.

Hilton Catt

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

Hu Wenzhong

Hu Wenzhong, Ph.D., of the Beijing Foreign Studies University, is also president of the China Association for Intercultural Communication and Fellow of the International Academy for Intercultural Research.

Iain Martin

Iain Martin is a commentator on politics and economics. He has been editor of the Scotsman and of Scotland on Sunday and Deputy Editor of the Sunday Telegraph. He has written for the Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times, the Daily Mail and Standpoint magazine. His first book, Making It Happen: Fred Goodwin, RBS, and the Men who Blew Up the British Economy, was shortlisted for the 2013 Financial Times/Goldman Sachs Business Book of the Year Award and won the Debut Book of the Year prize at the 2014 Political Book Awards.

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.

Jordan Belfort

Jordan Belfort was born in Queens, New York. He hustled ices to put himself through college, showing early entrepreneurial flair. His first business sent him bankrupt at twenty-four so he went down to Wall St with $100 in his pocket and ended up building one of the largest brokerages in America - the now infamous Stratton Oakmont. A hard partying lifestyle ended in crash and burn. Ultimately indicted by the federal government, Belfort served twenty-two months in prison, and time in rehab. He's now a highly successful motivational speaker.His story has been made into a Golden Globe-winning and Academy Award-nominated film starring Leonardo DiCaprio and directed by Martin Scorsese.He is currently living in Los Angeles.

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.

Mark Forster

Mark Forster is a full-time life coach. He frequently runs workshops and seminars specialising in time management.

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.

Michael J. Marquardt

Michael J. Marquardt, Ed.D. is professor of Human Resource Development and International Affairs as well as Program Director of Overseas Programs at George Washington University. Dr. Marquardt also serves as President of the World Institute for Action Learning and is the author of 20 books, including Leading with Questions and Optimizing the Power of Action Learning.

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.

Peter Cauweiler

Peter Cauweiler, PhD is Director of WIAL-Thailand and WIAL Board Secretary. He is also the editor for 2 WIAL newsletters distributed to over 5000 people.