On 7/13/2020 at 12:47 PM, Owtahear said:
I am using mostly organic, local whole wheat flour with occasional organic AP flour along with bottled, distilled water.
Whole wheat flour contains pieces of bran that act like tiny little knives which cut through the gluten in the dough. It's essentially a volume killer. This is why you rarely see 100% whole wheat breads, but, rather, find it as a fraction of a blend. A little denseness can work in bread, but you really don't want a dense pizza crust. Generally speaking, whole wheat flour isn't the best choice for pizza dough. If you're dead set on adding it, both keep it to either 15% or less and combine it with a high gluten flour like Sir Lancelot. Bear in mind, though, every bit you add is volume lost.
Another volume/gluten killer is distilled water. It doesn't sound like you're using distilled water for your dough, which is good, but, the distilled water, combined with the whole wheat flour is why your starter isn't floating.
Not that ending up with a floating starter is going to solve all your problems. Much like whole wheat flour is okay for bread but isn't ideal for pizza, sourdough is generally best for bread as well. Bread is far more forgiving. A lot of pizza books are, unfortunately, written by bread bakers, so it's fairly common to see home pizza makers treat pizza like bread. Pizza is not bread. Sourdough barely exists in the pizza world. The handful of commercial entities successfully working with natural leavening devote their entire lives to mastering it- not days, not months... years, and, at the end of all that torture, the end result really isn't that different from commercial yeast (perceptible sourness is acid, and excess acid can be damaging to gluten).
If, after you successfully mastered commercial yeast, you want to go down the sourdough rabbit hole, feel free, but, until then, sticking to commercial yeast (IDY in a glass jar) will guarantee you the most stress-free consistent results possible.