‘A good column is sometimes like an antenna​e​ that has just picked up the background noise’

Columnist Suzanne Moore considers the art of opinion writing in an occasional series in which Guardian journalists discuss their work and its impact

When did it become clear you were a columnist?

I had a life before my career in journalism, which I didn’t really start till I was about 30. That life means I have always regarded hackery as an unlikely and temporary job, which I think stands me in good stead. Having left school at 16, I had gone to college in my mid-twenties and had a baby. I embarked on a PhD but was frustrated by the idea that only three people would read it. So I started writing for the lefty/feminist magazines that were around in the late 80s. The academic world seemed not to appreciate my popularising of the ideas that interested me but I started to get paid. My grant ran out so that mattered. For a while, I was an editor at Marxism Today, which taught me that I wanted to write rather than edit. Some people are brilliant at both but, once I had an idea, I wanted to hog it and pursue it myself so I realised I was very much a writer type.

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