So wait, what is the need for partitions? I’m not installing a image yet, I’m just putting on noobs.
The NOOBS Installer has its own scheme for creating partitions on the installation medium. https://github.com/raspberrypi/noobs/wi ... -explained
You don't need to know or understand the details of this. The first thing a newly created NOOBS Installer does when first booted in an RPi is to prepare the microSD card or other media for this partitioning.
But to do so it requires a microSD card that has been formatted in the first instance as a single FAT partion.
If at first boot your card immediately went to 'hold shift for recovery' it suggests to me that this initial preparatory formatting was not
in fact carried out successfully. Maybe your microSD card has spontaneously (and probably irrevocably) entered a Read-only state?