One of my goals this year was to limit my fiction reading to short stories, including all variations of less than novel length. With only two exceptions--the final proofread of my novel Stud and a rereading of William Goldman's The Princess Bride--I accomplished my goal.
I started the year reading mostly crime fiction because I had several back issues of AHMM and EQMM and several crime fiction anthologies in my to-be-read pile. As the year progressed, I added fiction from other genres, including fantasy, horror, literary fiction, and science fiction.
I read books and magazines; anthologies and single-author collections; stories written by male and female writers; stories written by gay, straight, and lesbian writers; stories written by black, white, and hispanic writers, as well as stories by writers of other ethnicities; stories by young, middle-aged, old, and long-deceased writers; stories by new and long-established writers; stories that were funny and stories that were sad; stories that turned me on and stories that turned me off; and all manner of other stories.
My original goal grew out of the realization that the bulk of my fiction reading consisted of novels, yet the bulk of my fiction writing consisted of short stories. I was becoming insular, my knowledge of the current state of short fiction increasingly limited to what I was selling and not what other writers were creating.
As the year ends, I find myself having learned one important lesson:
There is no single correct way to write a short story.
Will I continue to limit my fiction reading to short stories in 2012? No.
Will I include more short fiction in my reading mix than I did prior to this year? Yes.
Will I continue to concentrate on writing short stories rather than novels? Absolutely.