For Tolstoy the basic task for an artist lies not in notorious technique, but in his special gift of insight. Only one who sees with his own eyes and hears with his own ears what is unique and particular in his surroundings is a genuine artist. And these special insights reveal themselves only to him. The realist writer does not dream up, invent or create fantastic worlds; he doesn’t engage in free play of the imagination, nor does he seek embellishments for their own sake. It is as if he were reading the secret code inherent in things, people and events. The goal of the artist is not to describe or tell a story masterfully and wonderfully. No matter how well he has mastered his palette, no matter how accurately and thoroughly he has described something, no matter how good a storyteller he is, he will be an unproductive artist, much like the fig tree by the roadside, if he doesn’t have the ability to read this secret code in his own way, if he doesn’t look at the world in his own way and see something which no one has seen before him.
– A K Voronsky