Many things, but in this case I'm specifically speaking about short fiction.
I both am and am not a short story guy.
I appreciate the short story as a form for several reasons. For one, the short story is the back bone of science fiction and fantasy. If not for the short fiction pulp magazines in the early part of the 20th century, genre fiction as we know it today would not exist. I also acknowledge that while learning to write, the short story will teach the hopeful writer so much more about the crafting of great fiction than writing novels will.
On the other hand, I don't do well working in the short story format. My brain tends to go too big. I think on an epic scale. The book I'm working on now, SPELLPUNK, started as a short story and blew up into nearly 200,000 words for the first draft. Confining my writing is one of the biggest challenges I face. When other students were arguing to be able to write essays with a smaller word count, I was begging my teachers to let me go over as much as possible, usually by at least a thousand words. I have a few short pieces, and even a short fiction collection available only at my storytelling shows at Renaissance Faires. Ironically, my short story "The Half Faced Man" received an honorable mention for the Writers of the Future contest and is probably the work I'm most proud of.
I love reading short stories. I have few greater reading pleasure than to lose myself in a completely contained work that lingers with me. Yeah, the lives of the characters go on, but that one snapshot of their lives is complete and satisfying. I wish I could to it well more often.
A writer friend of mine, Frances Pauli, who does really well with her short fiction, is giving away coupons for her short story collection A Little Short For An Alien over on smashwords. There's a catch. Leave a comment below with your email address, or head over to her blog, http://francespauli.blogspot.com/ and see what she has to say about short stories, and leave a comment there. She'll email you the coupon for her book, and you can sit back and enjoy the form of fiction that launched our genres.
"In these pages many mysteries are hinted at.
What if you come to understand one of them?"
"Words let water from an unseen, infinite ocean
Come into this place as energy for the dying and even the dead."
"Bored onlookers, but with such Light in our eyes!
As we read this book, the jewel-lights intensify."