Well...not sure how to start this one but I'll say again that it does feel wonderful to be in a state of "punching my way out of the dark".
In thinking about our responsibility to ourselves as musicians and the craft of musicmaking, I have found myself remembering the words and advice of many teachers and people from whom I have had the opportunity to take lessons. The theme, of course, was all the same: "Be a violinist first."
So, this year I've decided that I'm going to study Nicolo Paganini's Twenty-Four Caprices....while in graduate school one of my summer assignments was to go through the caprices at the rate of one a week. Of course, as I look back the goal was simply to get through them, with the added benefit of improving my technique. Back then (this was in 1997 or 1998), I think I got through two of them. It is humbling to admit that I did not have the patience to analyze those thorny bits back then, and even more amazing to find that now I DO have the patience AND the desire to know them and to improve, as the true benefit is in both study and preparation.
Of course, with the goal now being one caprice every TWO weeks (with two weeks off after the first twelve), I know that I will only be taking a cursory look at these works which are both technically and musically fascinating. Nevertheless, it's a "hard slog" that I'm enjoying at the moment.
Perhaps in a few years I'll be able to play at least one of them in public...