I feel like I've been hearing quite a bit about them recently from a plethora of different authors. Most notably, I keep hearing about them from Stephen King and Neil Gaiman. (Though I've also been listening a lot to First Draft, which is a really cool podcast where Sarah Enni interviews YA authors, and a lot of them talk about short stories as well.)
I used to write short stories when I was younger, which means most of them weren't very good at all. I suppose they were good enough to get by when it came to class assignments, but I remember few, if any. The only one I can really remember is one I wrote in ninth grade about a girl getting hit by a car just before the boy who liked her could ask her out.
I was a fairly melodramatic teenager.
I don't think my writing started to resemble anything I would call "good" until I discovered fan fiction. Fan fiction was an awesome creative avenue for me. It helped me write fun stuff in worlds that were already created, with plenty of characters who already had their own backstories. I could change whatever I wanted and I got some pretty good writing advice too. If you look at my first fan fiction story compared to my more recent ones, you can see a huge difference. (Here's a link to my Fan Fiction profile, if you really want to take a look: Kirsten Erin. Don't judge me! :P) Writers are always saying that the best way to improve is to write and they are so correct. (I could go on and on about this, but I'll spare you that diatribe for now.)
I'm now working on trying to write a novel, but I would also like to hone my short story game. It's a part of the craft that I think I could do well at if I really gave myself the chance. I think my biggest problem is that I get attached to characters and want to stick with them. Thus, I'm more inclined to writing books than short stories.
I don't know how I'll make this a goal, other than just setting aside some time to sit down and write a story other than the one in my manuscript and see how it goes. It would be nice to have some shorter bits of fiction I could show and maybe, if I feel I'm doing well at it, be able to send out for contests or submission in magazines or journals. That would be pretty freaking cool.