If you saw our weekend wrap posts, you might have seen both Car and I are listening to the same audiobook – The Hitchhiker**. It was an Audible** freebie a couple of months back, that I’ve had sitting in my library untouched since. a couple of weeks back, Car mentioned she has started listening to it. On Saturday, I finished my knit Along audiobook but had found my groove with knitting. Into the audible library I went, and I noticed The Hitchhiker. It was reasonably short (around 6hrs in the summary), and knowing Car was listening as well was also part of the appeal, to have someone to chat to about it.
Having the same audio book queues up though, is where the similarities ended. Being two weeks behind, I hadn’t checked where Car was up to, and just assumed she was well ahead of my, if not finished. You know what they say about assumptions? Yeah. That. I made a rookie error of getting to the end of part one, launching into “omgosh I didn’t see <redacted > coming”, only to have Car message back, horrified. “Dude. Spoilers”. I was horrified. There is a reasonable cross-over in our media consumption, as with most friends with common interests. We’re often recommending tv shows and books and podcasts. Both of us though, are quite firm on the “no spoilers” policy, and here I was, flagrantly throwing out a spoiler without a second thought.
It got us to talking though, about the “how” of our listening. Car commented how fast I was getting through it. We chatted briefly about her love of silence and my inability to work in silence, how I put the audiobook on and kept listening until there were people in my house who wanted to talk to me. And then I dropped the bomb. I always have my books set somewhere between 1.3x & 1.5x. I may as well have shared another spoiler.
In last week’s episode, we chatted about about differing levels of auditory stimulation, and how it keeps out brains engaged. One of my children is neurodivergent, and they listen to audiobooks at 3x. It makes my head want to explode, but they can repeat it back to me word-perfect. They need that stimulation of lots of information coming at them rapid-fire. I can’t handle it at that speed, but equally, at 1x, my brain gets bored and wanders off on a little adventure, coming up with projects or stories or house decorating ideas. Doesn’t matter how good the story is, or how much I am enjoying it. My brain needs that slight faster speed to keep it engaged and on task. Depending on the narrator, that 1.3x to 1.5x range is my sweet spot. Fast enough to keep my brain engaged, slow enough I can understand it and it’s not uncomfortable to listen to.
Finishing The Forgotten Garden on Saturday morning, I had it set at 1.5x. Coming into The Hitchhiker, I had to drop it to 1.3x to get a similar level of auditory engagement. With my AirPods in, story on, I power knitted, and by Sunday night, I had finished the body of my knitting and was forty rows into my tail section. I love knitting, but if I hadn’t had that audiobook to keep me focussed, I wouldn’t have had a hope of getting that much done. Conversely, I couldn’t have listened to that much audiobook, without the tactile stimulation of the knitting to keep my hands busy while I listened. Learning the different ways my brain requires
Much to the amusement of the peanut gallery, I dropped into the chat Saturday night. “I only have an hour to go, but I don’t think I can finish this audiobook tonight.” The two friends I was chatting with both love scary stories, while my overactive imagination would have me awake, heart racing, staring into the dark, waiting for the murderer to come and get me, at 3am. I ended up finishing the audiobook on Sunday afternoon instead. Generally, once I get hooked on a story, I like to keep going until it’s done. For all that my brain likes novelty and the stimulation of new projects, it’s also a massive fan of ruts and grooves. I often tackle projects the same way – once I get going, I keep going and squeezing every last minute of the day that I can into getting it done. Newton’s law of inertia, crafter style. At the minute, I have a few different projects on the go, but the majority of my crafty bandwidth is being consuming by my knitting.
It tickled my funny bone, how we had only just spoken about how we approach the same hobbies and projects from very different thought process directions, and then here was a perfect example in the shape of an audiobook. Same book, two very different experiences. One, at parity speed, over two weeks, in dribs and drabs. The other, sped up, start to finish in under 24 hours in two main chunks.
Car finished last night, and despite our different approaches to the listening of the book, we both had very similar reactions to the ending, and to one of the characters in particular. She dropped into our MOCS messages with a comment, which I was in the process of replying to, when her second comment also landed. “hahah right? I thought it was just me who thought that”. The reply worked for both of her comments, so similar were our final thoughts on the book.
The perfect microcosm of how our creative partnership works, really. Same input, similar output, veeeery different processes in the middle.
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