I promised a progress report soon, so here it is: I have been writing lately, and doing better than I have in months, though nowhere near my peak output of several years ago.
The manuscript stands at about 230K words, and 47 chapters. I estimate it's about 80-85% done. I've begun writing the final arc, the events leading up to the climax.
Knowing what a mistake it is to talk about deadlines, I'll say I've set myself the goal of actually finishing the first draft by the end of this year. That's not a promise, but I know it's doable if I buckle down just a little bit.
This book is really, really messy right now. After I finish the draft, it's going to take some major editing, hacking and slashing before I'd even think of letting a beta-reader look at it. There are probably entire chapters that need to go, and others that are terrible and need to be rewritten. Also, embarrassingly, I find so much time has passed that sometimes I can't remember my own continuity, which means I keep having to refer back to earlier volumes. (I really need to do a complete reread of my own series soon. I sometimes suspect JKR didn't do this before she finished Deathly Hallows...)
Maybe I'll put up another one of those word clouds when I get closer to the end.
Thanks everyone for your patience. I still get emails, PMs, and reviews, and I do read and appreciate all of them. I try to answer everyone, but please don't feel ignored if your message somehow slipped past me, or I left it in my inbox and forgot about it. It is nice to know that even with GRRM and Patrick Rothfuss levels of procrastination, there are still people willing to read the next book of this series that I started over 10 years ago.