Old Shame

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
"You birds have a hundred thousand bad drawings in you; start getting rid of them now."
Chuck Jones, quoting one of his art school instructors.

They say that you have to do bad work before you can do good work. Not just one piece of bad work, but tons of it, some so bad that it puts The Eye of Argon and Baby Geniuses to shame.

Whether it's fan fiction or original published work, some really bad stories have been written (this goes for other art forms too, sometimes just as badly). And even though you have to do bad work before you can do good work, the bad work still exists and the creator has to deal with it. Sometimes it's published to wither and die on its own; most of the time, it isn't.

But sometimes the work was good, yet those in control would rather let it rot in a back vault forever while pulling down any and all online copies. For example, not many people know that a famous early-television personality hosted a mega-popular show for five years, or that another mega-popular show had anybody at the helm other than the current duo.

If the creator tries to erase any trace of its existence, shies away from it, moves on to the next question when it's brought up, or otherwise just tells people not to care about it, it's an Old Shame.

One of the leading causes of Dead Fic: authors express intent to finish their old work, read through it as a refresher, and can't get past the first chapter because of how bad they think it is. In fact, the vast majority of fan fiction in general becomes this after the author gains some age and perspective. This is commonplace at the start of someone's fan fic writing career; the author will want to write a really good fight scene or really interesting plot, but their inexperience in writing leads to plot holes and Mary Sues. Then, as the writer gets better and looks back on his old work, they'll cringe as they realize how bad it was; naturally, they may want to erase all memory of it.

Compare Creator Backlash, where the work in question gained popularity but earned the ire of its creators anyway. See also Ham and Cheese, where an individual in a movie he/she knows will at some point become Old Shame decides to have fun with it, and Took the Bad Film Seriously, where an individual doesn't even seem to realize the movie is awful and gives all they have. The motivation behind many an Orwellian Editor. Compare Grow the Beard. I Was Young and Needed the Money is an extreme example. Generally the opposite of First Installment Wins, it and can be the source of Never Live It Down. Art Evolution is a visual example of this: there's no faster way to embarrass a webcomic artist than pointing to something early in their archives. Compare Bleached Underpants.

Examples of Old Shame are listed on these subpages: