Filmmaker and performance and Web artist Miranda July conquers yet another genre—the short story.

In your stories and in your film Me and You and Everyone We Know, many of your characters are sad, lonely, awkward and somewhat ill-prepared for the world. Why are you drawn to these kinds of characters?

That's how I feel a lot of the time. There are a lot of shades within that lonely zone, and it never fails to feel new to me. I'm often taking parts of myself and giving them a whole person to fill up instead of the tiny shard that I allow. I am lonely, but I don't let loneliness take over my life.

Your work seems, ultimately, to want to be consoling and helpful. Is that intentional?

Yeah. At times, I do have kind of grandiose visions that my work at the very least provides some comfort to someone who might be feeling as I did when I wrote it. I know what it's like to get that kind of comfort from a book or a song, and I believe in that so strongly.

Have you always written fiction alongside the other work you do?

No. I really started right around the time I started writing the film, 2000 or so. I think I initially thought I would be a writer, then I tried to do everything else instead to stall finding out whether or not I could do it.

I gather that Rick Moody had something to do with your start as a writer—how did that happen?

Also around 2000, I met him. He came to a performance of mine. He's actually secretly a performer and a songwriter himself. As long as he was sharing that side of himself with me, I said I secretly want to do what you do. I sent him some stories. And he said rather simply that if you want to do this, you have as much right as anyone. In terms of feeling like a writer, I needed an elder to give permission.

Does writing fiction fit in neatly with your filmmaking and performance?

I always feel like I'm the best at whatever I'm not doing right now. Writing is the most satisfying medium to get right. There's not a lot of leeway to charm your way out of mistakes, like with good lighting or music or whatever. It really just is what it is. I think there's a kind of rigor that helps the other mediums too.

What's next? Another movie? More fiction?

I'm working on my next screenplay, so right at the moment I'm imagining myself as a great fiction writer.