That Electric Lightbulb Moment

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I should not be starting again at this stage but sometimes you cannot help yourself!

This morning, over breakfast, I asked my husband what it felt like to him when an idea strikes.  He looked at me with the gentle compassion which demonstrated clearly that he did not have a clue what I was talking about.  I wonder if I am alone in feeling almost euphoric when an idea comes.  I remember so vividly the exact moment at which I realised that I had to pursue some kind of exploration into art.  I was sitting in the art studio at the school where I was head of science.  The head of English had organised an artistic workshop for staff during the holidays and a handful of us were sitting round talking, relaxing and making sculpture.  It was a wonderfully convivial atmosphere and I know I was feeling completely happy and then ‘BANG’!  This huge surge of electricity flooded my brain.  I couldn’t talk.  I could hardly think. It was an ecstatic moment with an after burn which lasted for several hours and I knew that life would never be the same again.  I know that sounds a bit melodramatic but those who know me well have come to recognise these moments when my head almost explodes with an idea and I am unable to focus on anything else for several hours – sometimes even days – while the adrenalin, or what ever it is that pumps though my system in that moment, is gradually dissipated.  I think it probably infuriates them but what can I do?

My mother describes moments when her brother seemed to have ‘gone to the pictures’ and my daughter has always ‘gone off on one’ with an idea for a story almost from the day she was born.  Perhaps it is a family thing.  Do they feel the surge of hormones and the associated heavy headedness that I experience?  Is this what is meant by artistic temperament?

My most recent moment was yesterday.  I was driving to my studio with the express intent of putting 5 pieces of work, which sat ready and waiting  to be fired, into the kiln – a half hour job at the most.  Then, just as I approached the traffic lights in Earlsfield and should have been concentrating on a difficult right turn, an electric shock thudded through my brain.  I know that my resolution to the current project was not perfect but I had reached the stage of thinking that I was fairly pleased with it and it was good enough.  Now there was nothing else for it, I had no choice.  On arrival at the studios I rang home and explained that I might be some time.  I broke up the vessels which had waited so patiently for attention since before Christmas and began almost from scratch.  Assessment for these pieces is in less than a fortnight.  I have an exhibition (ArtRooms 2015: going on at the same time as the assessment .  I should not be starting again at this stage.  But there was simply no alternative.

The interesting thing is that I should have known it was going to happen.  I had woken up feeling very restless.  By the time I got into the car I was actually shaking.  I should have known.  But that feeling, when the crescendo comes and the idea hits cannot be rushed and I am not at all sure whether watching it approach would actually do me any favours.  It is exhausting though.  Just sometimes I wonder what it would be like to have someone else’s brain inhabit my body for a week or so.  Would it be like having a holiday on a tropical beach?

One day I think I need to ask someone to wire me up so that I can actually watch my brain activity, such as it is, on a screen.  I cannot believe that it fits any pattern of normality but I can’t help thinking it might be rather spectacularly colourful.  If I can only capture the moment.

The first eureka moment
The first eureka moment


  1. Wonderful. Not sure whether to feel envious, worried about you, worried about myself or merely enlightened!!!

    Keep sparking. And good luck with the new idea.

    C x

  2. Yes. Exactly. And then people expect you to converse as though there weren’t fireworks going off in your brain, sparking a chain reaction that sometimes you can barely breathe through. Crazy.

    1. Is this a family thing or are there others out there who experience the same rush? I can honestly say that just as mine struck yesterday it felt as if a tube train was about to arrive – you know the feeling – that huge rush of air and a slightly out of body experience!

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