Thursday, January 17, 2008

The Anal & The Banal

I've been writing a good bit and when that happens this blog tends to suffer. Bear with me, I'm bound to hit a rocky patch where the words cease to flow as freely. Unfortunately, these smooth stretches never last long enough.

But in the meantime let me share a few things that have recently occurred to me in my frantic state to get the plethora of thoughts in my head down on paper.

The word hustle is used fairly often. He hustled to catch the bus. But have you ever seen the word bustle used on its own and not paired with hustle? The hustle and bustle of another frantic day forced him to stop at the liquor store and buy a bottle of rum.

SOB, or S.O.B? Has the acronym been used long and widely enough to now be a word all of it's own or do you need the periods to set it off so as not to think it is simply sob (as in to cry) in caps? The me the punctuation in it seems out of place in dialogue it looks awkward. Here is the context from Plundered Booty in which I use it. Which do y'all think is clearer and looks better

After a bit Frank said, “He sure is a brazen SOB.”

After a bit Frank said, “He sure is a brazen S.O.B.”

I realize this is not the type of thing that would keep the work from being accepted, but it is the ind of thing that slows my writing down while I ponder the best way to do it. Yes, I can get anal about my writing. I am extremely disorganized and haphazard about most things but not my writing, or the arraignment of my fishing tackle box. Guess we all have to be anal about something.

While the posts are in stink mode I'll try to add at least one picture to keep things interesting.

This is a shot of the Amarillo skyline as viewed a couple of miles southeast of town. Okay, so that's not all that exciting either, but this is my view every morning on the way to work so I thought I'd share it. Guess it beats the exhaust smudged window of a dirty bus or the unending string of taillights that many people are forced to look at during their trek to work.


SUV MAMA said...

T- I think it's brilliant that you are so thoughtful in your writing. It is distracting when things are not consistent. So SOB or S.O.B.- I think as long as you stick to one form, it's acceptable (at least in my view). I've seen it done both ways.

Hustle- unless used as a sports thing "The coach told the team to hustle" than yes, it's usually always "hustle and bustle". It's colloquial, yes?

If you are stuck on semantics, have you tried speaking into a ditigal recording device? Just to get your thoughts out and break them free so that you don't have to get stuck on the prose?

It seems to work well for some people. I actually got a little recorder for Christmas and I love it for silly thoughts that come my way while driving. Beats talking on a cell phone, anyway.


Lana Gramlich said...

I'm anal about the English language, myself, but then again, that's my name backwards, so I figure it's OK. Ack! I didn't punctuate that properly! (See what I mean?)

Debbielou said...

Hello - very interesting & google thought provoking post !

Being English I don't often use the "SOB or S.O.B" word so I'm not entirely certain as to which definition you are referring to ( but I've had a good guess)

I searched on your dilemma of the SOB / S.O.B and came up with this lot;

SOB is a three-letter abbreviation that can reference:

son of a bitch, a euphemism and a general term of abuse( I think this is the way it should be - no full stops )

share of business

South of the Border With Pedro (?)

short of breath

small of back

Styles of Beyond, an underground hip hop group

S.O.B. (1981 film), a 1981 film written and directed by Blake Edwards

S.O.B., a Japanese hardcore punk and grindcore band

S.O.B.s, an episode of Arrested Development

The Society of Orpheus & Bacchus, the a cappella singing group from Yale University

The Super Oralloy Bomb, the largest pure fission bomb ever detonated, which had a yield of 500 kilotons

The Soldiers of Barrabas, a series of paperback novels written by Jack Hild

Sons Of Batman, fictional mutants following Batman in Batman:

S.O.B.- Storm of Bullets-

SoB Seventeen or Bust a mathematical prime number related project

Scars On Broadway - A System of a Down Side Project

Sons of Butcher - A Canadian Rock band.

What Is An SOB?Award given by Liz Strauss at Successful Blog since October 2005

School of business.

Supplementary Order of Battle
Sob, the abbreviation for the orchid genus Sobralia

Shit on a biscuit, United States military slang for biscuits and gravy ( What the hell is this ?? !!!)

Hope this helps - Have fun!!!

Monnik said...

debbielou's comment is funny. 'shit on a biscuit'... ha!

I like the picture of your commute. It's similar to mine, except that there isn't a foot of snow covering everything...

Jenster said...

I've seen bustle used by itself.

Though willow thin, the bustle on her dress prevented her from slipping through the small opening.

Okay. So that's not what you were talking about. Still, I couldn't resist.

alex keto said...

Plug in something, either SOB or S.O.B.

When you do the revision, I'm sure the answer will come

Charles Gramlich said...

I personally don't use the periods with SOB. And I have seen bustle used on it's lonesome. It shows up occassionally in fantasy descriptions, say of a busy bazaar, but "hustle" sounds too modern and wouldn't work.

Yes, that view is preferable to the traffic lights and bumper to bumper traffic.

Holly Kennedy said...

Nothing wrong with that view.
There's also nothing wrong with obsessing over details like SOB or S.O.B. I often do the same. However, I've learned to quickly move past them and focus first and foremost on the STORY.

A copy editor will catch these small and harmless inaccuracies. And trust me, they won't stop someone from buying your work if they fall in love with the story.

~grace~ said...

Lorelei was about to leave for her daily commute to Amarillo when her sister Jolene let out a screech.

"Lorelei!" Jolene screamed. "There's a frilly animal attached to your ass!"

"Oh don't be silly, Jolene," said Lorelie. "That's a bustle. They're the latest. All the cool girls are wearing them."

Jolene was dubious.


okay, so I just realized Jenster beat me to this, but I can be brilliant without being original, right?


also I've seen people "bustling about." there's less hustle involved in that action and more just random moving around killing time. usually elderly women clean things.

Barrie said...

The SOB vs S.O.B. might depend on the publishing house. I just sent my galleys back, and it would've been SOB (no periods). Not that I used that particular expression in my middle-grade mystery. :)

Stephen Parrish said...

Anyone who's been in the Army knows it's Shit on a Shingle, i.e., chipped beef on toast. The hungrier you are, the better it tastes.

Sam said...

I think it's S.O.B. otherwise it looks, well, like someone is crying loudly.

Nice view for a drive!

Josephine Damian said...

I'm from NY, and "hustle" is used to describe somebody working in overdrive to achieve a goal, the goal is usually to make a pile of dough - so I say you can use the hustle w/o the bustle which seems to refer crowds moving about, as opposed to the action of an individual.

S.O.B. = your intended usage while SOB reads like "sob" as in crying, but shouted form, JMO.

Glad to hea you're summoning the muse these days - blogging vs. writing? You gotta have balance.

Ok, gotta go write something. Oh, shucks, it's a damn school day for me. Oh, well.

Josephine Damian said...

PS, if I had a camera I'd document the brush fires I see on my commute to school.

Ah, paradise.

Patti said...

ohhhh, maybe i should post a view of texas from where i am...

it is revealing that the word anal made me laugh every time i saw it. that alone gives this entry a raised shiner...

Terrie Farley Moran said...


I love the picture. I immediately started humming Jason Aldean's Amarillo Sky as soon as I looked at the picture.

"I never complain, I never ask why / Please don't let my dreams run dry / Underneath this Amarillo sky."

As to SOB/S.O.B.--in my opinion, it doesn't matter which you use as long as you are consistant. Frank shouldn't call someone an S.O.B. on page 47 and then call someone else an SOB on page 93.

Just write on past it and then do the find and replace in the next draft--to be sure, to be sure.


spyscribbler said...

Hey, just a few days ago I used bustled all by itself! I swear!

Merry Monteleone said...

Okay, Stephen beat me to it - I always heard, "Shit on a Shingle"... why do I know this, my mom used to tell my dad that's what we were having for dinner when they were arguing and she wanted him to skip dinner.


I don't think this is anal at all... it's a bit of writerly procrastination, but it's still one of those things that throws you off...

I had the same problem with t.v. - seriously, I couldn't figure out if it should be, TV, t.v., or T.V.

I finally decided to make it TV all the way through, so long as it doesn't change back and forth... oh, and then I had a small mental collapse over the use of 'past' or 'passed'... I actually had to pull out the dictionary and felt like quite the dork. My second grader knows those words for f#ck's sake!

Merry Monteleone said...

Oh, yeah, I tagged you for a meme, Travis, but you can always skip it if you're in the writing groove.

cher said...

cool pic.
i think we can safely drop the .'s on the SOB thing. as long as you are capitalizing. capitalizing on SOB's ...sweet.

Marla said...

Have you ever noticed bloggers tend to use many of the same words. I find it annoying. Words like 'musings' and 'digress' seem to be all over the place.

I am sure you will get over this slow writing time real soon!

Mr. Shife said...

I met a bustling S.O.B once that hustled me out of some cabbage. I sobbed.
Have a good weekend.

Church Lady said...

I agree with Sam and Josephine. I like S.O.B. better.
And congratulations on having a nice writing spell! Gotta love it when that happens!

Mom In Scrubs said...


Don't choose. Pick something entirely different! S-O-B.

Okay, it doesn't look that great, but it's original!

"Shit on a Shingle..." That takes me back. My dad is ex-Air Force. We ate lots of S-O-S. We always loved it: it was the only time we were allowed to say "shit" and not get in trouble!

Shauna said...

Personally, I like the 'SOB'. No punctuation. It looks cleaner and flows easier when read.