I'm 65, have never published fiction, used to publish a fair amount of nonfiction but that was 20 years ago. Here's my question: can I hope to publish a novel I write just out of the blue without jumping through all the hoops of publicity and networking, etc. I know that no one would have heard of me, so why would anybody take a risk? But if it's good enough, is that enough?
Sure you can write a novel, no hoops involved.
And you can query an agent for that novel, and the agent can sell that novel, and you can do all that with no hoops involved either.
And you knew that was coming, right?
What you describe as "hoops of publicity and networking" is what the rest of us call "finding people who will want to read your book."
Is your goal just to write, or is your goal to have your books read by more than your critique group?
If you want to enter the business side of publishing, you will find a set of hoops delivered to your doorstep by your agent, along with a plan for how you will be jumping through them for quite some time.
And you know what? It's not all that miserable. Talking to readers is really a lot of fun. I do it everyday here on the blog, and it's one of the things I like most about my job.