When I look at your first attempt it looked very similar to my first attempt.
My first mistake was this: I didn't understand about standardizing the process. I would make the exposure (some arbitrary time, say 10 sec.), then I would watch the print in the developer and pull it when it looked good under the safelight. I would end up with uneven development because the paper never finished developing. When I standardized the development time (say 3 minutes); what my test strips were showing me then made more sense (single exposures). I learned to vary exposure time (2 sec. increments - without playing with the f-stops), not developing time - my results improved immediately.
I was also working in my bathroom - one tray on the sink and two in the bathtub.