Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Finally, Impact!

I write, because I must. It's an inner compulsion. My writing flows out with passion. And while I later go back and check for factual errors. structural issues, problems with syntax and stray typos, I don't generally change anything just to please a particular audience. I do, however, always hope that what I have written will eventually have an impact.

This attitude and its conflict with other ways of thinking about writing and the marketplace is discussed in my last and final CS blog post from 2015.

Publishing for Impact

Often after seeing reviews of my books, I am left with the impression that even if reading the book had been an enjoyable experience, ultimately no impact has been made. Lives have not been changed. Minds have not been touched. The worldview they came in with is intact. And that's okay, but I always hope.

Today, Facebook told me that the fans of Our Lady of Kaifeng  had not heard from me in a while. Not knowing what to post, I scoured the internet for new mentions. I did not find any new reviews, but I found something even better. Our Lady of Kaifeng: Courtyard of the Happy way was mentioned when discussing the meaning of the word autoist.

Source: Stackexchange

The impact I am having is not literary or political -- but I am making a contribution to the English language!

Why is the word "autoist" necessary to describe someone who does things only for the love of the thing? Because "hedonist" isn't right, and "selfish" or "egoist"  have all those negative connotations, and because while "autistic" is actually closer than you think, it, too, is heavy with misconceptions.

So there you have it: the opposite of an altruist is an autoist, not an egoist. And  altruist, in case you are wondering, is just "social metaphysician" with a positive connotation.  So the opposite of an egoist is a social metaphysician. But if you want to avoid words with negative connotations for the concepts you are discussing, just use autoist and altruist. They are pretty much self-explanatory, if you understand the etymology.


  1. Maybe your silent readers have been impacted by what you write, you never know. Sometimes people are shy and busy, and just do not share or post comments.

    1. Yes, Julia, I am beginning to think that there may be silent readers I don't know about who do pay attention.

      Years ago, when I was a teen, I was an Ayn Rand fan. But I did not write her a fan letter, because I did not just want to say "I enjoyed your books and my life has been changed." I wanted to be able to also say: "And here's what I have to add. Here's my contribution." I was at the time working on my first novel, "The Few Who Count". By the time I did write her, I was in my twenties, and the letter came back unopened, because she had died. But I was her fan all the same, all those years.

  2. Some "altruistic" people are bullies. They brag about what they do to help others. I never knew much about this until recently, but apparently women with long hair are often scolded in person and on social media about how they should donate their hair to charity. If someone wants to do that that is their choice, but there seems to be another motive behind the bragging about altruism and charity, and coercing others to do thing via social shaming.

    1. Yes, I agree. Some use the altruistic creed to bully others into doing what they want. In the case of what you describe about donating long hair to charity being coerced, there is probably an ulterior motive to redistribute beauty and health. It is really an even uglier motive than guilting people into donating money. It's as if they were saying: "You are too beautiful. Donate some of that beauty to someone else, at the price of not looking so beautiful."