When they get to the stage of sending work off to magazines, a substantial, but outwardly invisible part of a poet's life, is waiting for the moment of acceptance or rejection. It's a tension unseen by friends and family (but experienced perhaps via the mood of the poet), that follows them around all day every day for as long as it takes.
The afflicted poet can develop an obsessional interest in the arrival of the postman, or the checking of their email inbox.
It's worse for poets just starting off on this uncertain journey. The mix of hope and despair is a potent one, enhanced by the time it takes to get a reply, which, depending on the journal, can be considerable. It helps if they have a submission window, and publication dates, but it can still be a lengthy interval.
If you already have publications under your belt, you can to some extent rest on your laurels, knowing that you have, at least, achieved publication in the past. But it can be addictive, this desire to see yourself in print, proof that an editor has deemed your work of sufficient value to chose it for their magazine. You want more of it. Waiting gets easier, but never quite loses that sharp edge, the pang of an unfulfilled desire.
I am a great believer in computers. They have made the life of any kind of writer a great deal easier, especially perhaps the poet, who can more easily see their work laid out on the page in order to determine its optimal form. And when it comes to making a new print, your original conception is waiting there to reappear effortlessly, just as you originally intended it. Furthermore, it positively encourages you to make changes you might have hesitated to make if you had already spent time typing out a first final draft, and didn't fancy having to repeat the process all over again.
The arrival of the internet has made it easier to research which magazines you might want to send your work to, and provides editors with a means of telling poets what is expected of them, and how to contact them to best advantage.
However, as far as waiting is concerned, technology has done little to improve things. True, email has provided a means of getting the eventual response to you, be it favourable or otherwise, as quickly as possible, but in reality it is only a small difference.
The latest technological advance is the internet portal known as Submittable. This provides a website that enables poets to send their work to magazines and competitions that subscribe to it. It has advantages, and once you get used to it, can make the process easier. It does nothing whatsoever to mitigate the pain of waiting. In fact, if anything, it makes it worse, adding a new twist to the exquisite pain. To your close examination of the postman, and the checking of your email inbox, you can now add the ability to check your Submittable account, and in my experience the temptation is as irresistible as it is futile.
Once you become a poet who submits their work for publication the need to endure a testing wait for the verdict on your work, becomes unavoidable. If you haven't experienced it yet, but are about to, welcome to the ranks. And remember, as Milton didn't quite put it – they also serve who only sit and wait.