Sanmao on Not Writing

Next week I’m going on a short holiday, and taking a break from all the writing I’ve been doing of late (various articles and book chapters in the works).

So it is timely that I came across the following little quote today from Taiwanese writer Sanmao (三毛) in her wonderful travelogue and memoir, “Stories of the Sahara” (撒哈拉的故事), a quote that I thought worth sharing.

Writing is important. But sometimes putting down the pen and not writing is actually more important.


So I’m looking forward to a week of not writing, somewhere in a yurt down in East Anglia. More when I get back!

Comments 6

  1. Hi Will,
    I’ve run across your blog in search of San Mao’s writings in English(specifically, “Stories of the Sahara”). I was wondering if and hoping you might be able to point me in the right direction, as my search has come up empty. I am grateful for any help; my mother talks about growing up in Taiwan and being inspired by San Mao, and I would love to be able to understand her writings.

    Much obliged,

  2. Hi, Andrew,
    I don’t think her books are translated, which is a shame as the English-speaking world is missing out. I’m sure I’ve come across bits and pieces here and there in English, so if I stumble across anything, I’ll let you know.
    All the best,

  3. Check out BABEL 101 TRANSLATIONS ( There is a translation of one of her short stories from “Stories of the Sahara” available there. The short story is titled “The Mute Slave“ (啞奴).

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  5. Hi Andrew San Mao is a terrific writer and is huge in Asia in 70s 80s but sadly she passed away in 1991, I recently saw some of her letters published when I was in Asia. I have about 20 of her books but sadly they are in Chinese. I don’t understand why Ang Lee have not translate her stories into film..

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    Do you have the name of the book with her published letters? I’d love to read it. She is indeed a terrific writer. I could see Ang Lee doing a good job.

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