I have never had absolute command of language. Words have always been to me accidental, unnatural, uninevitable. I have spent my life trying to master words, but they never became part of me. I always have to search for them, pull them in by the neck. I use as few of them as I can.
— Eric Hoffer, Before the Sabbath
It’s funny to picture Hoffer as a truant officer, rounding up recalcitrant words as they play hooky. Myself, I’m more of a nomadic hunter, stalking the skittish herds during their seasonal migrations across printed pages and pixelated screens. Occasionally, I’m fortunate enough to drive a few good-sized paragraphs off a cliff, which will provide sustenance for at least several days. And like the hunters of yore, I let no part of a kill go to waste. Every bony noun, fatty adjective, and sinewy participle will find a use, and any viscera left over will be shaped into neoterisms, nonce words, or portmanteaus.
Hoffer went on to say that any idea could be clearly expressed in two hundred words by anyone knowledgeable and determined to avoid pedantic obfuscation. I would add that an apt metaphor is to language what the invention of the wheel was to labor — a means of carrying heavy concepts with minimal effort. A prescient metaphorical picture is worth a thousand words of academic detail.