WHEN DID YOU START WRITING?
That’s a tough question. It’s been a long journey. But I think my early childhood bond with books put my feet on the path and walked me toward a lifelong love of words.
I remember sitting on the floor of my bedroom—age three or four—books scattered around, piles on my lap, in corners, under the bed—the Golden Book Series, The Book House books, Grimm’s Fairy Tales, Eloise at the Plaza, and Eloise in Paris and Eloise in Moscow, books from my father’s childhood days—A Day on The Farm, Gulliver’s Travels. I looked at the pictures, “reading” them for hours and making up the story as I went along turning the pages.
When Dad read to us each night I remember stopping him midway through a familiar story book saying “No, that’s not the way the story goes, it’s like this … ” giving him my version– the one I told myself looking at the illustrations.
In the late 1950’s my brother and I had a collection of colorful vinyl 45 records of stories set to songs. I’d pile a stack on our brown RCA record player—Peter and The Wolf, Madeline, Sleeping Beauty, Peter, Please it’s Pancakes—and listen for hours as they dropped down automatically one after another. I never tired of listening to them.
Here are a few additional ways I started my writing life when I actually did learn to write:
At age six, Santa gave me a pink leather diary with a gold lock and key. I wrote poetry in it, some of which my mother saved and I still have (see above.)
At age twelve, we moved from Cedar Ridge Farm in New Jersey to a new home in Connecticut for my father’s new job. I was so homesick and attempted my first memoir on a legal pad—locked behind my bedroom door, mad at the world.
That fall I entered my new middle school’s sixth-grade essay contest. I wrote a story describing a grueling walk I took barefoot, over piercing rocks that ripped the skin from the soles of my feet. I won first place.
In eighth grade, I wrote the class superlatives.
In high school, I took creative writing for three successive years, and penned articles for the school newspaper.
While in college at the University of London, I discovered the joys of classic English Literature– Dickens, Joyce, Bronte, Eliot. At college back in the States, I took journalism and creative writing classes and became an editor on the college paper.
My first jobs post-college in 1978 were on small regional New England newspapers. Later, I followed the writing trail trying on New York City for size. My first “editorial job” was as a receptionist for the Hearst Corporation and a sometime- reader for Avon Books. I soon left the city to take a job as a News Bureau Director for the Mount Snow Ski Area in Vermont. After a freezing winter, I hightailed it back to New York snagging a job as an editorial assistant for a Modern Bride Magazine. That job led to a gig at the Silver Palate Catering Company writing copy for their brand new mail order catalogue, which lead to a job with Ogilvy and Mather Public Relations in the food division. Finally after twelve years of “gathering experience,” I went out on my own and created Ryder Sollmann Special Events and Public Relations.
People Magazine was my biggest client, and I worked with and for them for two plus years. I also managed events for The New York Board of Trade (where I was responsible for putting Donald Trump on the NYBT’s fundraising dais long before he became President Trump) and The Whitney Museum. I created fundraisers and press for a few wonderful non-profits including The Ensemble Studio Theater in New York, Actor’s Theater Nantucket and The Ronald McDonald House in Manhattan. It was fun and scary but the rent got paid on time.
Then I got married in 1990 and had Lizzie in 1991 and dabbled in all kinds of things…interior design, antiques and gardening. I continued to scratch on a legal pad with a number two.
One day, mopey that Lizzie was leaving for college my husband turned to me and said, “Why don’t you go back to your writing?”
Head-slap! I found a creative writing course a week later at Rutgers University twenty minutes from my house that fall and I haven’t stopped writing since.
So, when did I start writing?
You tell me.
A sample of published pieces
Explore a more comprehensive listing of Ryder’s published works.