I have been thinking about the questions you raise here and in other posts in your admirable attempt to ‘dive in’ the deep end with qualitative research and it’s peculiarities. I think what may be missing or skipped somewhat is the reflective period of thinking about ‘why qualitative’ in the first place. It is a certain ‘mind set’ that we come to qual work with, whether that is from more formal learning or from experience and being immersed in the process.
These blog posts are themselves good places for reflection and you have been doing that. Perhaps wrongly, I sometime sense that you are trying too hard to get it down and get it right rather than use qual work as a process in itself which will reveal your own particular ways and peculiarities of dealing with the complexities and depth of qual data.
I am known for saying, ‘swim in the data’. By this I mean do not be too quick to jump to catagorisation, labelling, etc of your data. This approach in itself may reveal answers to some of the very questions that you pose above.