I have been recently inspired to pull my finger out but none other than my very own Uncle Allan. Twenty years ago, he and his wife conceived an idea for a novel - rooted in their love of North Wales and fascination with its slate mining heritage. Today, they have written six novels in an epic saga spanning a century - from 1900 to, I think, the present.
Allan, who had never written a word of fiction before this project, began to attend a writing class a few years ago. It was funded by MIND as a way of keeping older people's grey matter active (not that Allan needed much help there) and was run by a well-meaning academic in his thirties who advised Allan that he'd get nowhere without an agent...
Well, long story short, Allan has been offered a publishing deal from a well-known publisher based in Cambridge for his second (I think) novel in the saga. As I type, he's frantically working with an editor and the company's marketing department to release the book later this year. And he has another publisher interested in the first in the series!
Hurrah! I love it when people circumvent the established order. It gives us all hope that we won't all necessarily have to pay through the nose for an agent and that, these days, talent and ideas can speak for themselves.