There are, I suppose, febrile savants who reject any notion that a person can acquire the writing art outside those hallowed halls of academia. Yet storytellers captured audiences for millenniums before Oxford or Harvard were more than forest enclaves where wild turnips sprout.
There's dissent, of course, holding the cloistered academic life to be poor training grounds for the kinds of riveting stories audiences wish to hear or read. My particular PhD came from God's own university of wild places and wilder things. My Culture might best be described as the Campfire kind, backed up against the inky black of star-filled nights, regaling saucer-eyed guests with tales of wilderness adventure, while horses stomped at picket lines and coyotes howled at a rising moon.
My doctoral thesis came during three decades of narratives about those wild places and wilder things; wonders saw, heard, smelled, tasted, and felt; crafted for Outdoor Life, Field & Stream, and Sports Afield. My column was syndicated over two decades to 17 newspapers, and I hosted a coast-to-coast radio show with 210,000 listeners airing on 75 stations across America. Then I turned my attention to books: a baker's dozen novels and wildlife and adventure nonfiction titles, all self-published to great success, all flavored with real-life experiences.
What's my point? That one can have adventure AND learn to write very well indeed (despite academic disdain for anyone outside their comfortable inner circle); well enough indeed to tell the conventional publishing world to go to hell--that I'll publish my own stuff.
And at greater profit
Outdoors Unlimited, publication of the Outdoor Writers of America, says "Roland is a self-made naturalist".
The Billing's Gazette says of Roland's first grizzly book: "New book paints perfect portrait of grizzlies".
Tacoma's The News Tribune says, "Cheek is at his best when he's describing bears in action, and at his best, he's excellent".
The Coeur d'Alene Press says of Roland's elk book: "If you are, were, or ever hope to be an elk hunter, The Phantom Ghost of Harriet Lou is a must read book... Perhaps it should be equally recommended for the non-hunter because Cheek artfully describes his own evolution as a hunter where the kill becomes progressively less important while the enjoyment of the total experience becomes increasingly stronger".
And Eaton, Ohio's Register Herald says: "Roland Cheek is a born storyteller".