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Introducing Madison Utley

Everyone wants to be in a band, right? Even the most solitary among us revel in
the enhanced processing speed and deepened emotional richness that come when we work closely with another who “gets it.” In that vein, we introduce our newest collaborator, Madison Utley. And rather than rotely recite her bio, we’ll simply pass her the mic…

 

Someone recently asked me how I found my way into independent editing and, I was off: “So, when I was seven years old…”

The scale of my response was met with clear alarm, but rather than heeding social cues (I mean, where’s the fun in that?)*, I forged onward: buckle up, buddy, I’m taking you on a journey.

Luckily for you, dear reader, I realize my loquaciousness is better received in person than on the page, and so shall present to you here the abridged version of my tale –

For a decade of my childhood, one month a year was set aside for family road trips throughout the US. It was on a particularly glorious stretch of plains, many years and many miles into this endeavor, where I remember first articulating something which had been dancing around the periphery of my fledgling awareness: The only difference between being home or being here was going; the trick to getting things done is doing them.

 

 

It wasn’t as if all barriers were dramatically dashed from my mind in that moment, somewhere on the open road at high noon; it wasn’t an epiphany. It felt more like acknowledging an incontrovertible truth, one that settled in right at the core of my pliable twelve-year-old consciousness.

Carried into adulthood, that perspective meant I was comfortable turning ideas (I want to learn Spanish) into decisive action (I’m going to move to Colombia).

It’s not a terribly novel ideology. It doesn’t absolve me of the time and effort necessary to enact my plans. It doesn’t mean I’m inherently good at all I try. It doesn’t mean things unfold how I expect.

What it does mean is that I embrace my agency and trust in my ability to figure things out. If I come across what seems to be a worthwhile pursuit, I know I can and will make it work.

Sure, I can move to South America. Sure, I can run a marathon. Sure, I can set the record for most wings consumed in one sitting in the Greater Los Angeles area.

Sure, I can write a book.

Enter: independent editing.

With the first major project I took on, I didn’t let the fact that I had never attempted writing on that scale deter me. I put in the time. I researched. I sought guidance from the right people (looking at you, Stuart).

I wrote the book.

And I was hooked.

Independent editing felt – and feels – like the coalescence of all that I most value in life: dealing in words, working with people, dynamism, independence, flexibility, challenge.

Fast forward several years and I’m currently based in Sydney, Australia (…because it’s beautiful. Because I want to. Because I can?). Some weeks, I’m elbow deep in projects that set my mind afire. Others, I’m trekking for days at a time through the Tasmanian wilderness. I’m dizzy with gratitude I’m able to structure my life in a way that allows me the freedom to pursue the breadth of that which I find fulfilling.

It seems to me that living well relies on (near) equal parts humility and confidence. Helping people bring their vision to the page demands the same; it’s their project, their expertise, their passion – I’m there to learn. I also know I have much to give. Therein lies the excitement.

 

* let the record show, in actuality, I am an excellent storyteller who is forever leaving my fans wanting more

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