There are always obvious answers, easy choices, roads well-traveled. In fact, standardized tests bank on it, presenting the lazy, most commonly incorrect answer as choice "C" (also the default letter in the A-E of multiple choice answers). No doubt there are typical responses to certain Rorschach inkblots, aiding psychologists in personality assessment. Writers, good writers, try to avoid the obvious and cliched. Or they’ll use it to their advantage, knowing that the reader brings certain stereotypical ideas along for the ride. A storyteller can anticipate what the reader is thinking and use such assumptions to purposefully mislead the reader, providing a more surprising (holy shit, I sure didn’t see that coming) plot twist.
A few weeks ago, in writing exercise mode, I came across this prompt: to list the five traits I liked in myself as a child. I remember rolling my eyes, imaging how most people must respond. I bet most adults look back at their childhood selves and see cliches. I bet they listed how they missed the curiosity they used to have, that inquisitiveness and passion, the ability to see new, how easily delighted, how ready to laugh and learn. Then they’d make a small joke to themselves, mention the elasticity of their skin and say, "Eh, it’s close enough to a ‘trait.’" Then my mind wandered, and I realized how obvious and cliche of me to want to be different. How expected. How we all want to believe we’re special. How we actually are all special without having to work so hard on it. So I decided to turn off that "how do I differentiate myself" voice and wrote from the heart. One thing I never admired about myself: my penmanship. Forgive it.