No rhyme or reason to those EL's sometimes. Mine occasionally does something like you are describing... (I do think it is related to low power... I still have a feeble NiCad).
I start flipping the switch at will and pressing the shutter, and I seem to always get a combination to make it cycle. Mine is on the shelf now, meaning to do a 9v conversion. Right now people are amused with my "hand crank" 500cm I use a lot in studio with a LeafAptus back and occasionally some B+W in the old A-12.
This link shows how.