| Quote #1
As I read them, I saw the author's penmanship evolve from the overcautious script of a child to the tightly packed scribbling of a young man. (Introduction.7)
We won't spend a lot of time on the skill of "penmanship" in this book (or, you know, in life). But even here in the introduction, we see that the book is concerned with skill and improvement. Considering the fact that Abe didn't spend much time in school, even this improvement in his handwriting shows his dedication to training.
| Quote #2
After a while, the [ax] handle would simply slip through my fingers, and my arms would hang at my sides like a pair of curtains. If Father saw me resting thus, he would cuss up a cyclone, take the ax from the ground, and split a dozen logs in a minute to shame me into working again. I kept at it, though, and with each passing day, my arms grew a little stronger. (1.47)
When we start, Abe isn't a great hero. This isn't some folk story about a Paul Bunyan-like dude who could chop trees as a baby. (What would a baby do with all that lumber anyway?) Abe starts out weak—but he doesn't stay that way for long. Notice that we get "I was weak" and "I grew stronger" in the same paragraph.
| Quote #3
At first I had been astonished by his speed and strength—convinced there was no way I would ever be its equal. Over time, however, I noticed that it took him longer and longer to subdue me. I even found myself landing the occasional strike. Soon, it was not uncommon for me to best him three times out of ten. (3.156)
Henry is training Abe to hunt vampires, which is a nice hobby but not a great-paying job. It's a slow process, too. Abe may be improving, but he's not exactly a natural. Sure, he may be destined to ax vamps, but it's not going to be an easy road to that destiny. It just goes to show—just because you're fated for something, doesn't mean you can skip out on all the hard work.